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



CNN

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

Farideh Moradkhani, a well-known rights activist who opposes the Iranian regime, was arrested on Wednesday when she went to the prosecutor’s office to present a court order, according to a tweet from her brother Mahmoud Moradkhani.

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

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 laws or rules except force and maintaining its power in any possible way,” he said.

“Now in this critical moment in history, the entire humanity observes that the people of Iran, with empty hands, with outstanding courage and bravery are fighting the evil forces,” he said. “At this time, the Iranian people are carrying the burden of this heavy responsibility only by paying with their lives.”

Farideh Moradkhani said that Iranians are at war with governments that support the Iranian regime, and called on democratic countries to recall their representatives from Iran and expel Iranian representatives from their own 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 watched,” he added.

Farideh and Mahmoud Moradkhani are the children of Ali Tehrani, a cleric and longtime oppositionist who was married to the sister of the supreme leader, Badri Hosseini Khamenei. Tehrani died last month.

In a statement shared on Thursday, the Human Rights Activists (HRANA) news agency confirmed Farideh Moradkhani’s arrest on Wednesday and said she was “imprisoned after an appearance in Evin court to serve her 15-year sentence.”

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

CNN cannot independently verify when Farideh Moradkhani recorded the video statement shared by her brother on YouTube on Friday, and has reached out to Mahmoud Moradkhani for clarification.

Iran’s ongoing protest movement was initially sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini 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 in Iran, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.

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

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

The violent response of Iranian security forces towards 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 the deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Meeting Basij personnel in Tehran on Saturday, Khamenei described the popular protest movement as “terrorists” and “thugs” backed by foreign forces and praised “innocent” Basij fighters for protecting the nation.

The Basij is a wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and has been sent to the streets as protests swell.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Farideh Moradkhani was arrested following the release of her video statement. This has been corrected.

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