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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Khamenei Orders Crackdown After Tehran's Biggest Protests in Years

By Michael Lipin June 27, 2018

Iran's supreme leader has called on his judiciary to confront anti-government protesters after they staged the biggest strikes and street demonstrations in the capital Tehran in years.

State news agency Tasnim says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Wednesday with a group of judiciary officials in Tehran and told them that they should "confront those disrupting economic security."

Tehran workers angered by Iran's worsening economy have staged a series of strikes since Sunday, with the biggest strike shutting down the city's Grand Bazaar on Monday. Hundreds of bazaar workers and other protesters also marched on major Tehran streets Monday, while smaller street protests were observed Tuesday.

One video shared on social media showed riot police firing tear gas at Monday's marchers, while another video showed two wounded men apparently beaten by police Tuesday.

ISNA, another state news agency, posted a report Wednesday quoting Tehran's police chief Hussein Rahimi as saying police officers were maintaining a powerful presence at the Grand Bazaar. He said that presence would continue as long as necessary.

Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, told state media Tuesday that some of the protesters had been arrested and their leaders identified.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Iran's crackdown on the protests. In a Wednesday statement, he said Washington "condemns the government's same futile tactics of suppression, imprisonment of protestors, and the denial of Iranians' frustrations." In another part of the statement shared on Twitter, Pompeo said the Iranian people are "tired of the corruption, injustice, and incompetence from their leaders. The world hears their voice."

The heads of several Iranian merchant associations told state media that the situation at Tehran's Grand Bazaar was almost back to normal Wednesday, with a limited number of shops being closed. It was not clear if the closures represented a continuation of the anti-government strikes.

Iran Chamber of Guilds Secretary-General Ali Eyazzapour was quoted by Tasnim as saying some gold shops at the bazaar were closed due to what he called the "sensitivity" of their products. He did not elaborate.

ISNA quoted Association of Islamic Guilds Secretary-General Ahmad Karimi Esfahani as saying some bazaar stores were closed possibly due to merchants traveling or beginning their weekend early. Iran's weekend runs from Thursday to Friday, and there were no known public holidays Wednesday.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Persian Service.

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