Iran captain Ehsan Hajsafi mentioned his group sympathized with anti-government protests at dwelling and that his group needs to be a voice for the oppressed at a information convention in Qatar a day earlier than the nation’s first World Cup match in opposition to England.
Hajsafi, a veteran defender, opened a information convention on the eve of Iran’s World Cup opener in opposition to England by expressing his sympathies to the family members of the victims of the regime’s lethal crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Unprompted, the 32-year-old defender opened the press convention with a remark about anti-government protesters in Iran. “They should know that we sympathize with them,” he mentioned, earlier than including, “the conditions at home are not good”.
Greater than two months of protests in Iran, sparked by the loss of life of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl who died in custody, have mounted one of many boldest challenges to the Islamist regime for the reason that 1979 revolution.
Iran’s nationwide group has been within the highlight forward of the World Cup in Qatar, with anticipation of whether or not the gamers will use soccer’s showpiece occasion as a platform to indicate solidarity with the protest motion.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” Hajsafi mentioned. “We’re here but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or that we shouldn’t respect them.”
The wave of unrest erupted in September after Amini died in police custody for carrying garments deemed “inappropriate”. Iran’s authorities blames overseas enemies for the disaster.
The crackdown since Amini’s loss of life has left practically 400 folks lifeless, in response to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
“Everything we have, we owe to our people and we are here to work hard, to fight, to perform well on the pitch, to score goals and to dedicate ourselves to the people of Iran,” he mentioned. “I hope that the situation changes as the people want and that everyone will be happy.”
The state’s response has led to questions on whether or not the group represents Iran or the regime that has dominated with an iron fist for the reason that 1979 Islamic revolution.
Soccer, politics and human rights
Some Iranian sportsmen and girls have made gestures seen by protesters as supportive, together with not singing the nationwide anthem or celebrating victories on the sphere.
Different members of the group have to date averted discussing politics in public. Gamers Karim Ansarifard and Morteza Pouraliganji refused to reply questions on Friday about solidarity with ladies in Iran. On Thursday, midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who performs for Dutch membership Feyenoord, instructed such questions had been a ploy to distract the group.
Nevertheless, Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun was chosen for the group regardless of publicly supporting the protests prior to now.
Some activists have taken a stand in opposition to the nationwide group for not doing sufficient, calling on Iranians to collect in predominant squares in cities and cities round Iran on Monday night time.
A social media put up, which was tough to confirm given the crackdown on reporters in Iran, mentioned: “No matter what result the hated team of the Islamic Republic gets, we will gather in the streets to celebrate the defeat of the team of the Islamic Republic . while chanting revolutionary slogans.”
A banner for Iran’s nationwide group was set on fireplace in Tehran, movies on social media confirmed.
Iran confirms assaults on Kurdish teams in Iraq
Monday’s match between Iran and England comes as Iran launched cross-border assaults on Kurdish opposition teams in Iraq, killing no less than one fighter.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Monday that that they had launched cross-border missile and drone strikes in a single day in opposition to Kurdish Iranian opposition teams in Iraq, calling them “separatist anti-Iranian terrorist groups”.
The teams “have been the target since morning of a new series of missile and drone attacks by the Revolutionary Guards’ ground force,” they mentioned in a press release.
The federal government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan area on Monday condemned “unjustifiable violations” following Iranian strikes. “The repeated violations that undermine the sovereignty of Iraq and Kurdistan are indefensible,” mentioned a press release from the Kurdistan Regional Authorities.
The Iranian authorities additionally stepped up its crackdown on persistent anti-government protests within the predominantly Kurdish areas of western Iran, the place Amini’s household is from.
Reinforcements of safety forces had been despatched to the western Iranian metropolis of Mahabad, rights teams mentioned, whereas photos and sounds of heavy gunfire and shouting had been posted in a single day.
Rights teams had beforehand posted photos of defiant protests in Mahabad, together with after funerals of victims of the state’s crackdown on the protests, with folks staging avenue sit-ins and organising barricades.
The Norway-based Hengaw rights group mentioned “armed troops” had been despatched to Mahabad from Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan province. Hengaw mentioned no less than 4 protesters had been killed within the Kurdish space.
“In the residential areas of Mahabad there is a lot of shooting,” it wrote on Twitter.
The group posted footage of helicopters flying over Mahabad that it mentioned had been carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard despatched to quell the protests.
The broadly adopted activist account 1500Tasvir mentioned a 16-year-old pupil and a college instructor had been killed within the Kurdish city of Javanrud. The small print couldn’t be independently confirmed.
The very first protests happened in Kurdish-populated areas of Iran, together with at Amini’s funeral in her hometown of Saqez, earlier than spreading throughout the nation.
(Axadle with AFP and Reuters)