Iran says "calm restored" after week of gas-linked unrest

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-23 22:19:17|Editor: huaxia
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TEHRAN, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Judiciary announced on Saturday that tranquility has returned to the Iranian cities after one week of protests over gas price hikes.

The unrest has ended and "calm has been restored to the country," Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaili was quoted as saying by Press TV.

Esmaili said that the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has arrested "around 100 of the senior and junior ringleaders as well as the principal elements behind the recent disturbances at various spots across the country."

A considerably higher number of people have also been identified by Iran's Intelligence Ministry in connection with the riots, Esmaili said, adding that some of these people have been arrested.

He said that the arrested people include those serving foreign interests, organized elements, and hooligans with multiple criminal records, who had amassed firearms, cutlasses, and incendiary materials to foment unrest.

On Nov. 15, the Iranian government started rationing subsidized gasoline and increased its prices. Following the hike of the prices, protests and violence erupted in a number of Iranian cities.

According to the Press TV, reports of fatalities both from security forces and civilians have not been confirmed officially.

Besides, Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Reisi on Friday said that severe punishment awaits the rioters who sought to make the country insecure.

"Those, who misused the (economic) concerns of the people in recent days and rioted and created insecurity in the society and damaged public property should know that severe punishment awaits them," Reisi was quoted as saying by the state IRIB TV.

He said that "we will not allow the slightest violation of the country's security."

On Saturday, the Internet access was restored in most parts of Iran. The Internet had been shut down by the Iranian Supreme National Security Council since Monday following the outbreak of protests that turned violent in a number of Iranian cities.

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on the Iranian Minister of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, over what he called Jahromi's alleged role in the "wide-scale Internet censorship" in Iran following recent wave of violence in the country.

"We are sanctioning Iran's minister of ICT for restricting the Internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world," Mnuchin said.

In reaction, Iran's Foreign Ministry on Saturday condemned the U.S. move to sanction Jahromi.

"It is clear to everyone that the current U.S. administration places no value on democratic principles and values, transparency and human rights, including free (access to the) Internet for others," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

A review of the U.S. administration's record shows that directors of major social networks and communication companies, such as Twitter, have been pressured into silencing the critics, Mousavi said, adding that such a policy reveals Washington's "political and instrumental" approach to free Internet access.

On Wednesday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani blamed foreigners for the unrest, saying that the enemy could not achieve its aim to create chaos in the country.

"Our people have always aborted the enemy's plots," Rouhani said, adding that "they also nullified the enemy's plots over the past days, which were aimed at creating riots and insecurity in the country."

Rouhani noted that his government's move to raise the fuel prices is aimed at "correcting the consumption patterns of the fuel" in the country.

The Iranian president said that the "rioters" were a small group of people who failed to materialize the enemy's scheme.

The Iranian president blamed the intelligence services of Israel and the United States for being behind the unrest in some parts of Iran over the past days.

"Our people showed that despite (economic) problems in their lives, they would not allow the enemies to misuse their demands," said Rouhani.

He also expressed his gratitude to the Iranian police force, the IRGC and Basij volunteer militia which helped establish security in the country.

"We will counter the mercenaries who want to destabilize the country," he said.