By Jubin Katiraie
It took her less than two weeks to make U-turn.
Lelya Vaseghi is the governor of the Qods region – a Tehran suburb recently spread where once an old city stood.
On December 1, she went on air boasting having ordered security forces to shoot the protesters who tried to enter the governorate office’s compound west of Tehran. In the wake of unprecedented suppression efforts undertaken by the government, she felt necessary to push the show of force to the end.
So she said that before the protesters entered the compound, she had also warned the population by mass SMS messages that security forces had orders to shoot them in cold blood if they dared take to the streets.
Outrageous admission of regime’s governor of Qods city near the capital #Iran, proudly speaking of her order to shoot and kill #IranProtesters #FreeAllProtesters #StopIranBloodshed #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/PrjuniG3U3
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) December 1, 2019
Contrary to the authorities’ belief, the population was not frightened so as to keep silence. A hail of messages on social media began against the mass killings by the government, and perpetrators began to be named on the network for the angry population to know.
Given the spread of protests which covered a little less than 200 cities across the country, security forces did not feel absolutely safe all around Iran. A good numbered claimed they had only “executed orders”, and that deep in their hearts, they were with the protesters.
The supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, issued an order to appease families of those killed by his security forces and designated some authorities to pursue the order. Families nevertheless refused to even accept phone calls on the part of those in charge of killing their loved ones. The fear was clearly changing camp. So Leyla Vaseghi suddenly realized she was not on the safe side of the events.
As stupidly as she had boasted her inhuman and suppressive order to shoot protesters, she tried to repent from what she had said. On December 10, she published a “story” page on her Instagram account reading as follows: “I have decided to repeat this story page for one week, so as to calm my conscience, and beg to understand from my people so that I may be pardoned.”
She explained further on the same account: “I salute the brave Iranian people. Yesterday my page was reported because of popular anger against me!! Please refrain from judging my action before putting yourself in my place. I do however feel a duty to demand pardon from the brave people of Iran for what has passed!!!”
Nothing could prove best the meager morale and state of mind reigning over the regime in Iran. More than a thousand protesters killed and several thousand injured may have quenched the flames of the uprising, but the recovery speed in so short a period is amazing. Half-measures by authorities to calm is not what can help them.