Ahmadinejad Writes Rouhani Alleging Security Forces Blocked Supporters Rally
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written a letter to President Hassan Rouhani alleging security forces used violence against his supporters as they rallied on February 10 for the anniversary of 1979 Revolution.
In the letter, published on his website and quoted in censored form by other Iranian websites, Ahmadinejad urged Rouhani to take “decisive action” after his supporters − supposedly independently from him – struggled to hold a rally, observing public-health protocols, to mark the Revolution’s anniversary in the Narmak district, eastern Tehran, near the former president’s home.
Fararu website reports that Ahmadinejad’s supporters had gathered to urge him to run in the June presidential elections, but security forces did not interfere with their rally. Ahmadinejad who finished his second term in 2013 was not allowed by the Guardian Council to run in 2017.
Ahmadinejad wrote that “security agents and plainclothesmen” had “laid siege” to Square 72 of Narmak, putting up road blocks, and threatening or beating people trying to approach. Ahmadinejad also wrote that the previous day a taskforce in the Interior Ministry had threatened rally organizers and those inviting others to participate − on social media platforms, presumably.
“You have sworn to defend people’s rights,” Ahmadinejad told Rouhani. “Can people benefit from their diverse rights when they are treated like this for celebrating a religious and national occasion such as the anniversary of the Revolution?” Ahmadinejad charged that the authorities had openly violated the constitution.
Ahmadinejad extended his criticisms to the “suppression of people at various times including in November 2019,” a reference to protests in 2019 sparked when the baseline cost of gasoline was raised from 10,000 to 15,000 rails ($0.09 to $0.13) a liter. He suggested the government’s energies would be better used fighting corruption and “the enemies of the people.”
The November 2019 protests spiralled into nationwide unrest with authorities using lethal force against “rioters.” The government has never announced figures for deaths or arrests but Amnesty International in May reported the killing of 304 protesters or bystanders, including at least 23 minors. Reuters on December 23, 2019 claimed that three sources close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had said the leader had grown impatient and ordered officials to stop the protests.
His reference to the 2019 nationwide protests is interesting given the fact that when he was controversially announced the winner of the presidential elections in 2009, the largest peaceful protests took place in Iran. Authorities used overwhelming force against tens of thousands of people demanding their votes, killing dozens, and arresting hundreds.