Iran’s Interior Minister Highlights Khamenei’s Role In November Protests

Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has reiterated Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s responsibility in increasing the price of gasoline in mid-November 2019 when Iranian security forces are said to have killed around 1,500 protesters during unrest in reaction to a gasoline price hike.

According to official news agency IRNA, Rahmani Fazli who was speaking via video teleconference in a virtual meeting with police chiefs and commanders all over Iran on Monday April 20, called 2019 “an eventful year” particularly for Iran’s police force.

Referring to the protests to the gas price hike, he said: “The historic message sent by the Supreme Leader, led to a major development in which the people had a significant presence.”

According to a Reuters report, Khamenei’s message to the security forces at the time “set in motion the bloodiest crackdown on protesters since the Islamic Revolution.” Utterly angered by the nationwide protests, Khamenei told the security forces: “Do whatever it takes to stop them.”

Rahmani Fazli said the police’s behaviour was “brilliant and successful” without mentioning the crackdown.

In this and another meeting with the members of the Iranian Social Affairs Council at the Interior Ministry on Monday, Rahmani Fazli showed his paranoid preoccupation with the idea of enemies plotting against the Iranian government.

IRNA quoted him as saying that the enemies were planning to create a security situation during the parliamentary elections in February but thanks to measures taken by the police, we had an uneventful election.

The election was in fact a lackluster event as the turnout was unusually low because politically biased vetting by the Guardian Council had left very few popular and prominent candidates to vote for.

Meanwhile, IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim reported that at a meeting with the members of the Social Affairs Council Rahmani Fazli mainly spoke about the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has so far killed thousands of people in Iran including council member Fatemeh Rahbar.

Speaking on the controversy over reopening businesses, Rahmani Fazli said that “the enemies wanted to sow discord in the country by creating a dichotomy between bread and lives, but we should pay attention to both of these, saving lives and helping the people to win bread.”

Rahmani Fazli complained that the state TV refused to report the administration’s contribution to the fight against COVID-19 and asked the Culture Minister Abbas Salehi to make sure that all government organizations can report on TV about what they have done. This comes while the state TV is under the supervision of Khamenei and the Culture Minister cannot intervene in the broadcaster’s affairs.

Salehi complained that foreign based Persian media present a disparaging image of the situation of the outbreak in Iran. He was referring to the fact that foreign based media which are not controlled by the Iranian government present a more balanced account of events in Iran particularly by trying to present more objective and accurate reports on the outbreak and the death toll that is systematically played down by the government and the media inside Iran. They also mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency in the government.

The interior minister said at this meeting that today is exactly two months after Iranian officials announced the first cases of death in Qom as a result of COVID-19. He added that since then, the government has “managed the situation” very well and has done a lot to control the disease.

He said Iran is now in a good position in producing masks and manufacturing ventilators. Earlier, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer of sending ventilators to Iran, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif rejected the offer and claimed Iran will be exporting ventilators to other countries soon.

Rahmani Fazli, however, reiterated that all what he termed successes do not mean the country’s situation is normal.

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