Iran's supreme leader praises paramilitary volunteers tackling protesters

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Basij forces 'sacrificed themselves in order to save people'

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Basij forces for confronting rioters during the anti-government protests in Iran. EPA
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Paramilitary volunteers responsible for quashing dissent were praised by Iran’s supreme leader in a televised address on Saturday.

His support came as 140 ophthalmologists warned that demonstrators were being blinded by security forces.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed members of the Basij, the volunteer paramilitary wing of the elite Revolutionary Guard.

He also repeated claims that protesters demonstrating countrywide are “tools” of the US and its “mercenaries.”

“(The) Basij should not forget that the main clash is with global hegemony,” he said.

He said Basij forces “sacrificed themselves in order to save people from a bunch of rioters and mercenaries,” referring to the recent countrywide unrest. “They sacrificed themselves in order to confront oppression”.

The Basij has taken a leading role in clamping down on the demonstrations that began on September 17 after the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

Her death sparked months of protests over the country’s mandatory headscarf and snowballed into wider issues around women's freedoms.

Protests continued on Saturday in the capital Tehran and other cities, according to social media.

Members of Iranian Basij paramilitary volunteer forces at the meeting with Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran. EPA

On Friday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met a group of Basij members and praised their efforts to maintain security, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Dozens of protesters were killed or wounded after Iranian security forces opened fire after Friday prayers in the country's south-east, activists said.

In a letter, 140 ophthalmologists have raised concerns about the rising number of patients with severe eye injuries resulting from being shot with metal pellets and rubber bullets, according to pro-reform Iranian news site Sobhema and Iran International, as well as other sites on social media.

“Unfortunately in many cases the hit caused the loss of sight in one or both eyes,” the letter, addressed to the head of the country’s ophthalmologists association, said.

The doctors requested that the head of Iran’s Opthalmology Association pass on their concerns about the irreparable damage caused by security forces to the relevant authorities

Updated: November 26, 2022, 3:35 PM