Ayatollah Khamenei labels some Iran protesters martyrs

Al-Monitor – In a rare though not unprecedented move, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei indirectly acknowledged excesses in the crackdown on the protests that reportedly left over 200 dead, according to Amnesty International.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, presented Ayatollah Khamenei with a report about the protests over the recent fuel subsidy cuts. In response, Ayatollah Khamenei decreed, “Based on the existing legal framework, normal citizens who did not have any role in the latest protest and riots and lost their lives in the conflict will be considered martyrs.” The designation allows families to claim compensation and other benefits.

The Iranian authorities had labeled the protesters “rioters” and claimed there were armed individuals in the crowds. According to family members of some of those who were killed, some were caught in the middle of the protests. Ayatollah Khamenei’s decree is the first acknowledgement by the authorities of the excessive police response to the protests.

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