Iran’s Supreme Leader called U.S. President Donald Trump “psychotic” on Twitter and claimed his country foiled an attempt by the U.S. and Britain to use recent anti-government protests as a tool to overthrow the Iranian regime.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei let loose on social media once again, hailing what appeared to be the regime’s successful squashing of last week’s nationwide anti-government demonstrations, which resulted in at least 22 deaths and 3,700 arrests.
“Once again, the nation tells the U.S., Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that ‘you've failed, and you will fail in the future, too,’” Khamenei wrote. He also weighed in on the U.S. president's mental state, labeling Trump “very unstable.” Days earlier Trump described himself as being “a very stable genius” on his own notoriously erratic Twitter feed.
Khamenei’s outburst appeared to be something of a victory lap after protests that rocked the country for over a week in 80 Iranian cities seemed to have been largely stamped out through a heavy show of force by police and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.
Yet Khamenei also made some allowance for the “people's honest and rightful demands,” so long as they be separated “from the violent and vandalizing moves by a certain group.”
That sentiment echoed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, often seen as a moderate reformer against a backdrop of more conservative religious officials, who called on the country’s ruling elite to learn from the protesters a day earlier.
“The youth sees the world and life differently from us,” Rouhani said. “The majority of the country’s population is young, which means we have to listen to the youth.”
Yet despite calls for understanding from the country’s president, human rights monitors and some Iranian politicians raised concerns over the heavy hand of the security forces, including reports that detainees had killed themselves while incarcerated under questionable circumstances.
Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to investigate “reports that at least five people have died in custody following a crackdown on anti-establishment protests,” accusing the regime of instituting a “shroud of secrecy” over the fates of those detainees.
Iranian authorities claimed that a 23-year-old detainee named Sina Ghanbari, along with four other people, committed suicide. At least two of those were picked up during the crackdown — and activists are disputing the authorities’ claims of suicide in all five cases, according to Amnesty.
“Instead of rushing to the judgment that they committed suicide, the authorities must immediately launch an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation, including independent autopsies,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.