Iran’s Intelligence Minister and Army Chief renewed threats against dissenters as protests sparked by the September 16 death of a woman in police custody have grown into one of the largest challenges to the nation’s theocratic regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The protests first erupted in the days following the death of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab, or head covering.
The organization Human Rights Activists in Iran says since September, 328 people have been killed and another 14,825 have been arrested in the upheaval. The Iranian government, meanwhile, has officially remained silent about casualty counts, although state-run media has claimed that no one has been killed.
On Thursday the commander of the ground forces of Iran’s regular army, Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heydari, called the protesters “flies.”
“If these flies are not dealt with today as the revolutionary society expects, it is the will of the supreme leader of the revolution,” he reportedly said. “But the day he issues an order to deal with them, they will definitely have no place in the country.”