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Niece of Iran's supreme leader urges world to cut ties with Tehran over protest crackdown

LA Times logo LA Times 11/28/2022 Associated Press
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with a group of paramilitary members in Tehran on Saturday. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader) © (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader) Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with a group of paramilitary members in Tehran on Saturday. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

The niece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is calling on people to pressure their governments to cut ties with Tehran over its violent suppression of anti-government protests.

In a video posted online by her France-based brother, Farideh Moradkhani urged “conscientious people of the world” to support Iranian protesters. The video was shared online this week after Moradkhani's reported arrest Wednesday, according to U.S.-based rights monitor HRANA.

Moradkhani is a longtime activist whose late father was an opposition figure married to Khamenei's sister. Moradkhani's branch of the family has opposed Khamenei for decades, and she has been imprisoned on previous occasions for her activism.

“I ask the conscientious people of the world to stand by us and ask their governments not to react with empty words and slogans but with real action and stop any dealings with this regime,” she said in her video statement.

The protests, now in their third month, have faced a brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas. At least 451 people have been killed, including 63 minors, according to HRANA. Another 18,173 have been detained, the rights monitor says.

Despite the crackdown, demonstrations are ongoing and scattered across cities.

The unrest was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was in police custody in Tehran for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. It has quickly morphed into the most serious challenge to Iran's theocratic regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it would not cooperate with a United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate the deadly crackdown on protests, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Monday. The U.N. Human Rights Council voted to set up the mission last week.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not engage in any cooperation whatsoever with the political committee called the ‘fact-finding committee,’” Kanaani said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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