DUBAI, Nov 27 (Reuters) – The niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a well-known rights activist, has called on foreign governments to cut all ties with Tehran over its crackdown on popular unrest sparked by the death in police custody of a young man . Women.
A video of a statement by Farideh Moradkhani, an engineer whose late father was a prominent opposition figure married to Khamenei’s sister, was widely circulated online after what activists told the HRANA news agency that she had been arrested on Nov. 23.
“O free people, be with us and tell your government to stop supporting this murderous and child-killing regime,” Moradkhani said in the video. “This regime is not faithful to any of its religious principles and does not know any rules except force and maintaining power.”
Khamenei’s office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
HRANA said 450 protesters were killed in more than two months of nationwide unrest until November 26, including 63 minors. It said 60 members of the security forces were killed, and 18,173 protesters were arrested.
The protests, sparked by the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22, after she was arrested for “improper clothing”, have been one of the strongest challenges to the country’s clerical establishment since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, a member of parliament from the predominantly Kurdish city of Mahabad, said on Sunday that as many as 105 people had been killed in Kurdish-populated areas during the protests. He spoke in a debate in parliament as quoted by the Entekhan website.
Challenging the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, protesters from all walks of life have burned pictures of Khamenei and called for the downfall of Iran’s Shia Muslim theocracy.
The video was shared on YouTube on Friday by his brother, France-based Mahmoud Moradkhani, who identifies himself as an “opponent of the Islamic Republic” on his Twitter account, and by a prominent Iranian rights activist.
On November 23, Mahmoud Moradkhani reported the arrest of his sister when he followed a court order to appear at the Tehran prosecutor’s office. Farideh was arrested earlier this year by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and later released on bail.
HRANA said he was in Tehran’s Evin security prison. Moradkhani, he said, previously faced 15 years in prison on unspecified charges.
His father, Ali Moradkhani Arangeh, was a Shiite cleric married to Khamenei’s sister and was recently killed in Tehran after years in exile for his stance against the Islamic Republic, according to his website.
Farideh Moradkhani added in her video: “Now is the time for all free and democratic countries to recall their representatives from Iran as a symbolic gesture and expel the representatives of this brutal regime from their countries.”
On Thursday, the UN’s top human rights body decided by a comfortable margin to establish a new investigative mission to look into Tehran’s security crackdown on anti-government protests.
Criticism of the Islamic Republic by relatives of high officials is not unprecedented. In 2012, Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, the daughter of the late former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to prison for “anti-state propaganda”.
Iranian authorities released activist and blogger Hossein Ronaghi on bail on November 26 to undergo medical treatment, according to his brother’s Twitter post.
Concerns about Ronaghi’s health have grown after he went on hunger strike last month.
Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Tom Perry, Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson
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