November 30, 2022 | Flash Brief

Iran Arrests Niece of Supreme Leader as Death Toll of Protesters Mounts

November 30, 2022 | Flash Brief

Iran Arrests Niece of Supreme Leader as Death Toll of Protesters Mounts

Latest Developments

The niece of Iran’s supreme leader called for the clerical regime’s downfall in a video statement that her brother posted online after Tehran’s security services arrested her last week. Comparing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler and Mussolini, Farideh Moradkhani said in the video that other countries should cut ties with the “murderous and child-killing regime” in Tehran. Her arrest reflects Khamenei’s growing fears of ongoing protests in Iran, which constitute one of the greatest threats to the regime’s survival since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Expert Analysis

“Iran’s arrest of Farideh Moradkhani shows that the regime will stop at nothing to retain power. Rather than merely voice support for human rights in Iran, the Biden administration should express explicit agreement with Moradkhani’s call for regime change.” Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor

A History of Defiance

Tehran has arrested Moradkhani before. In January 2022, the regime detained Khamenei’s niece after she praised the widow of the former shah, calling for her to return to Iran. Moradkhani has also campaigned against the death penalty, which Tehran employs more than any country in the world other than China. Her late father, married to Khamenei’s sister and a persistent critic of the Islamic Republic, spent years in an Iranian jail.

Iranian Repression Continues

Iranian security forces have killed at least 448 people, including 60 children and 29 women, since protests began in September, according to the Norway-based nonprofit Iran Human Rights. Hundreds of protesters have suffered eye injuries or lost their vision entirely as targets of rubber bullets and other weaponry. The regime has even used ambulances to penetrate demonstrations and arrest protesters. A CNN investigation found at least 11 incidents of sexual violence against male and female protesters in prison.

Growing International Condemnation

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council held a special session on the protests in Iran, passing a resolution that establishes an independent, international fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses related to the unrest. Iran faces a “full-fledged human rights crisis,” said Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights. Tehran responded that it will not cooperate with the fact-finding mission. The regime has refused to allow UN special rapporteurs on human rights in Iran to visit the country since 1992.

Related Analysis

Mapping the Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz and FDD

Maximum Support for the Iranian People: A New Strategy,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad, Richard Goldberg, Tzvi Kahn, and Behnam Ben Taleblu


Iran Iran Human Rights Iran Politics and Economy