DUBAI (Reuters) – A sister of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned his crackdown on nationwide protests and called on the widely feared Revolutionary Guards to lay down their arms, according to a letter published by her son, who lives in France.
Iran has been gripped by unrest since the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody on September 16 and is facing a three-day general strike movement that began Monday.
Badri Hosseini Khamenei, who lives in Iran and is the sister of Ayatollah Khamenei, criticized the clerical establishment from the time of the late Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini until her brother’s rule, the letter dated “December 2022” said. .
“I think it is now appropriate to state that I oppose my brother’s actions and I express my condolences to all mothers who mourn the crimes of the Islamic Republic, from the time of Khomeini to the present era of the despotic Caliphate of Ali Khamenei,” she wrote in the letter, which was shared on Wednesday on her son Mahmoud Moradkhani’s Twitter account.
“Ali Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries should lay down their arms as soon as possible and join the people before it’s too late,” the letter said.
The Revolutionary Guards are Iran’s elite force, which has helped the country establish proxies in the Middle East and run a vast business empire.
On Tuesday, the elite force released a statement calling on the judiciary to show “no mercy to rioters, thugs and terrorists,” in a sign that authorities have no intention of relaxing their crackdown on dissidents.
Iranian judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi said Tuesday that five people charged with the killing of Basij militia member Rouhollah Ajamian have been sentenced to death in a sentence that they can still appeal.
In November, Khamenei’s activist daughter Farideh Moradkhani was arrested by authorities after she urged foreign governments to sever all ties with Tehran.
Videos shared on Twitter by 1500tasvir, an account with 385,000 followers focused on the protests in Iran, showed closed shops on commercial streets of Tehran, Isfahan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Najafabad, Arak, Babol and Shiraz, where security guards ran shopkeepers forced to open their stores.
Reuters could not verify the videos.
Meanwhile, President Ebrahim Raisi gave a speech at the University of Tehran to mark Student Day.
Some students in front of the main lobby shouted “dishonorable” and “students will die but don’t accept this government”. A video shared by 1500tasvir showed students getting into verbal fights with plainclothes security guards.
Students protested at several universities across Iran, such as Amir Kabir University in the capital, where they called for the “downfall of the entire regime” and chanted “death to Khamenei,” according to footage shared by 1500tasvir.
In the northeastern city of Mashhad, students gathered outside Ferdowsi University and were threatened by people riding in a pick-up truck who warned they were being “subpoenaed” and that it would end badly for them.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Michael Georgy, Toby Chopra, William Maclean)