On Wednesday, the sixth day of widespread protests against the ruling system in Iran, exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi has called on the police and security forces to join the demonstrators.
“The death of a number of the bravest men and women of our homeland and detention of many more during national protests make people more resolved in continuing the path they have taken,” Pahlavi tweeted, adding, “I ask the military and police forces to separate their lot from the suppressing despots and join the people, right away.”
Based on officially confirmed figures, at least 22 people were killed in the first week of protests in several cities, including Shahin Shahr and Qahdarijan in Isfahan Province, central Iran.
The number of detainees has also been officially reported at more than 1,000.
Earlier, in an interview with the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), the political and security deputy of the Interior Ministry, Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, had announced that 450 people were detained in the capital city, Tehran, between Saturday and Monday.
Reportedly, 90 percent of the detainees are 25 years old or younger.
Meanwhile, Iran’s last queen, Farah Pahlavi, issued an official statement on January 2 sympathizing with families who have lost relatives during the protests.
“Do suffering people, who demand a better life in a rich country, deserve to be treated in such a way by those who are running the state?” she asked.
In her statement, circulated on social media, she called for freedom and unity in Iran and accused the country’s leaders of corruption and oppression.
Many slogans chanted by protesters in the anti-regime demonstrations have been strongly against Iran’s top leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, while in favor of Reza Shah (1925-1941), who established the royal dynasty of Pahlavi in Iran.
On January 2, the secretary general of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), Mostafa Hejri, told VOA’s Persian Service that the people of Iran are seeking to topple the ruling system since they do not trust its leaders.
Hejri called upon Iranians of Kurdish origin to join the protests.
Renowned Iranian lawyers in and outside Iran, including Noble Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mohammad Saifzadeh, Abdol-Karim Lahiji, and Mohammad Olyaei Fard, also issued a statement in support of the protesters.
Referring to Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution, which stipulates, “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam,” the lawyers maintained that “the people have been absolutely deprived of their right to hold free gatherings; peacefully chanting slogans against financial, managerial and judicial corruption, demanding an end to them.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deployed forces to three provinces to put down anti-government unrest after six days of protests that have rattled the clerical leadership and left 21 people dead, Reuters reported on January 4.
According to Reuters, “Defying threats from the judiciary of execution if convicted of rioting, protests resumed after nightfall with hundreds hitting the streets of Malayer in Hamadan Province chanting: ‘People are begging, the supreme leader is acting like God!'”
In a sign of official concern about the resilience of the protests, IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said he had dispatched forces to Hamadan, Isfahan, and Lorestan provinces to tackle “the new sedition.”
Sedition is a term used to describe those who opposed the re-election of the incumbent president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in 2009.