Iran Revolutionary Guards detain 100 identified leaders of petrol hike protests


Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards have identified and detained about 100 leaders of the protests in “various parts of the country” against a hike in petrol prices, the judiciary says.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhosse in Esmaili told state TV on Friday that as well as the 100 protest leaders and prominent figures already detained, a “significantly larger number” had been identified and would soon be arrested.

The announcement came as the US placed sanctions on Iran’s communications minister for restricting internet access during the unrest.

Amnesty International says more than 100 people were killed during the protests which hit several cities.

Other sources say the toll may be far higher. Iranian officials earlier this week confirmed 12 deaths.Iran’s president on Wednesday claimed victory against an “enemy plot”, saying that “subversive elements” backed by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia were behind the unrest.

The protests erupted last Friday after the government announced the price of petrol would be increased by 50%.

The price of a litre rose to 15,000 rials ($0.12; £0.09 at the unofficial market exchange rate). Drivers were told they would be allowed to purchase only 60 litres each month before the price rose to 30,000 rials.

President Hassan Rouhani said the government was acting in the public interest, and that the money raised would be distributed to the country’s neediest citizens.

But the decision was met with widespread anger in a country where the economy is already reeling as a result of US sanctions. They were reinstated last year when President Donald Trump abandoned the international 2015 deal with Iran on curbing its nuclear ambitions.Iran’s oil exports have collapsed; the value of the rial has plummeted; and prices of basic goods have soared.

Banks and petrol stations were set ablaze as protests spread across the country and demonstrators clashed with security forces. (Source: BBC)