Iran: Niece of supreme leader calls on foreign governments to cut ties with Iranian regime



CNN

Farida Moradkhani, the niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on foreign governments to cut ties with the Iranian regime in a video statement released two days after her arrest.

Faridah Moradkhani, a well-known rights activist who opposes the Iranian regime, was arrested on Wednesday when she went to the prosecutor’s office to fulfill a court order, her brother Mahmoud Moradkhani tweeted.

In a video statement shared by her brother two days later, Faridah Moradkhani called on people around the world to cut ties with the Iranian regime amid protests sweeping the nation and “to urge their governments to ask their governments to stop any dealings with this regime . . .”

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with a group of students in Tehran, Iran, on November 2.

“Oh, free people, stand with us and tell your governments to stop supporting this murderous and child-killing regime. This regime is not loyal to any of its religious principles and knows no law or rules except force and wields its power by any means,” he said.

“Now at this critical moment in history, all humanity is observing that the Iranian people are fighting the forces of evil with empty hands, with exemplary courage and bravery,” he said. “At this time, the people of Iran are bearing the burden of this heavy responsibility by paying with their lives.”

Farideh Moradkhani said that Iranians are at war with governments that support the Iranian regime and must recall their representatives from Iran and expel Iranian representatives from their countries.

“What is urgently needed is not to support this regime that killed thousands of Iranians in four days in November 2019 while the world only watches,” he said.

Fareeda and Mahmoud Moradkhani are the children of Ali Tehrani, a cleric and longtime opposition figure married to Badri Hosseini Khamenei, the Supreme Leader’s sister. Tehrani died last month.

In a statement shared on Thursday, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) confirmed Faridah Moradkhani’s arrest on Wednesday and said she was “imprisoned after appearing at the Evin Courthouse to serve her 15-year sentence.”

HRANA previously reported that she was last arrested by security forces in January this year and released on bail “pending legal proceedings”. According to HRANA, Faridah Moradkhani has been arrested on previous occasions “due to her civic activities”.

CNN could not independently verify when Fareeda Moradkhani recorded the video statement her brother shared on YouTube on Friday and reached out to Mahmoud Moradkhani for clarification.

Iran’s ongoing protest movement was initially sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police in September.

The unprecedented national uprising has gripped more than 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 provinces of Iran, said Volker Turk, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Iranian protesters take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amin on September 21.

More than 14,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, including children, according to Turk. At least 21 of them are currently facing the death penalty and six have already received the death penalty, he said.

The violent response of Iran’s security forces towards the protesters has shaken diplomatic relations between Tehran and Western leaders.

Over the weekend, Khamenei praised the country’s Basij paramilitary force for its role in a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Khamenei, who met with Basij personnel in Tehran on Saturday, described the popular protest movement as “rioters” and “thugs” backed by foreign forces and praised “innocent” Basij fighters for defending the nation.

The Basij are a division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and have taken to the streets as protests mount.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Fareeda Moradkhani was arrested after her video statement was released. This has been corrected.

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