Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who denounced the protesters by calling them thugs, rioters, enemy agents and monarchists, on Wednesday simmered down surprisingly.
Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani pointed out that the hierarchy was struggling to deal with the resentment experienced from the inhumane suppression of demonstrators across the country. The protests began when gasoline prices were announced to be increased by almost 50% without prior notice on the 15 November.
Introducing his approach towards the protestants, Khamenei demanded that the judiciary show some “Islamic mercy” and draw a line between those who protested against the uncalled for rise in gasoline price and those who destroyed public property.
During the suppression of protesters, the Iranian authorities called for an Internet shutdown for 10 days and stationed armed security forces to stamp down the unrest. According unofficial accountings, more than 180 and about 450 people may have been killed in such clampdowns. However, the authorities and the government completed refuted the claims, calling them speculative instead of taking responsibility and owning them. Moreover, no official numbers have also been released yet pointing at the reckless suppression of protesters in Iran.
The crackdown experienced in the recent past, against the protesters demonstrating over the price rise is reportedly the most lethal one since the revolution of 1979. With international focus shifting on the matter concerning the abuse of freedom of expression and human rights, the senior leaders of Iran urgently demanded leniency towards the demonstrators and even pledged to compensate the peaceful protesters who lost their lives in the face-off with the security forces led by the authorities.
According to political analysts, it is no surprise that the same Khamenei demanded leniency towards protesters who once deployed armed security forces to subdue them. According to the analysts, Khamenei may have realized that his calculations about suppressing angry citizens by power was after all wrong.
Rouhani too became the target of enduring one of the biggest losses suffered from the aftermath; a significant drop in the popularity of his political party. Not only did the opponents, but even President Hassan Rouhani’s supporters in Iran were disappointed with his strategy reflecting in the unforeseen rise in the price of gasoline. They called his price rise a ‘mismanagement’, in addition, to his brutality evident in his clampdown of the ordinary.