Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gathered his top security and government officials together, and issued an order: “Do whatever it takes to stop them”, the Reuters has reported.
This follows the unrest where about 1,500 people were killed in less than two weeks of protests that started on November 15. Protests first broke out across the country after the government's decision to hike the price of fuel. It quickly spread into one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Internet access was cut in most parts of the country and some reports highlight that state security forces used 'lethal force' to crush the protests as things quickly escalated across the country.
According to the Reuters, this count includes at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.
A December 16 report by Amnesty International said the death toll was at least 304. The U.S. State Department, in a statement to Reuters, said it estimates that many hundreds of Iranians were killed, and has seen reports that number could be over 1,000. Authorities last week announced that over 7,000 people were arrested during the protests. According to Iran's interior minister up to 200,000 people took part in the unrest nationwide.
On November 27, he also said more than 140 government sites had been set on fire along with hundreds of banks and dozens of petrol stations, while 50 bases used by security forces were also attacked, according to remarks reported by Iran's state news agency IRNA.
Tehran’s clerical rulers have blamed “thugs” linked to the regime’s opponents in exile and the country’s main foreign foes, namely the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, for stirring up unrest. Khamenei has described the unrest as the work of a “very dangerous conspiracy.”
19th India-Iran joint commission and NRC flagged up
In the meantime, India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for the 19th India-Iran joint commission with talks on the Chabahar port. The meeting of the two ministers was the first since last month, when Zarif was reportedly “disappointed” that India had allowed itself to be “bullied” by the United States and stopped all oil imports from Iran. Earlier, Iran’s Ambassador Ali Chegeni had suggested that India’s adherence to U.S. sanctions was also affecting Chabahar port development plans.
In a tweet after the meeting on Sunday, Mr. Zarif said they had “excellent discussions on closer bilateral relations and regional and global issues affecting our respective countries,” adding that India-Iran ties are “ancient, historic and unbreakable”.
Meanwhile, the Mehr news agency also reported that a “number of Indian businesspersons, professionals, university and seminary students and scholars living in Iran” sought a meeting with Mr. Jaishankar to discuss protests around the Citizenship Act introduced recently in India.