DUBAI (Reuters) – The sister of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned his crackdown on protests across the country and called on the widely feared Revolutionary Guards to lay down their arms, according to a message released by her France-based son.
Iran has been in turmoil since the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mohsa Amini, 22, in police custody on September 16, and is facing a three-day general strike that began on Monday.
Badri Hosseini Khamenei, who lives in Iran and is the sister of Ayatollah Khamenei, criticized the religious establishment from the time of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to her brother’s rule, according to the letter dated “December 2022.”
“I think it is now appropriate for me to announce that I oppose my brother’s actions and express my sympathy to all mothers who live on the crimes of the Islamic Republic, from the era of Khomeini to the current era of the authoritarian succession of Ali Khamenei,” she said. And she wrote in the letter, which was published on Wednesday on the Twitter account of her son, Mahmoud Moradkhani.
“The Revolutionary Guards and the mercenaries of Ali Khamenei should lay down their arms as soon as possible and join the people before it is too late,” the letter said.
The Revolutionary Guard is Iran’s elite force that has helped the country establish proxies across the Middle East, and operates a vast business empire.
On Tuesday, the Elite Force published a statement calling on the judiciary to “have no mercy on rioters, thugs and terrorists,” indicating that the authorities do not intend to ease their fierce crackdown on dissent.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman, Massoud Staishi, said on Tuesday that five people who have been indicted for the killing of Ruhollah Ajemian, a member of the Basij militia, have been sentenced to death in a verdict they can still appeal.
In November, authorities arrested Khamenei’s daughter, activist Farida Moradkhani, after she called on foreign governments to sever all ties with Tehran.
Videos shared on Twitter by 1500tasvir, an account with 385,000 followers focused on Iranian protests, showed closed shops on the commercial streets of Tehran, Isfahan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Najafabad, Arak, Babol and Shiraz as security forces forced shopkeepers to open them. Even their stores.
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.
Meanwhile, President Ebrahim Raisi delivered a speech at the University of Tehran on the occasion of Student’s Day.
“Shame” and “the students will die, but they will not accept this government,” some students outside the main reception hall shouted. A video shared by 1,500tasvir showed the students verbally brawling with plainclothes security forces.
Students protested at several universities across Iran such as Amir Kabir University in the capital, where they demanded “the downfall of the entire regime” and shouted “Death to Khamenei,” according to footage shared by 1,500 Tasfir.
In the northeastern city of Mashhad, students gathered outside Ferdowsi University and were threatened by people riding in a pickup truck who warned them that they would be “called out” and that it would end badly for them.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Michael Georgy, Toby Chopra and William Maclean)