TEHRAN, Iran – An Iranian reformist lawmaker said Tuesday that some 3,700 people were arrested in the days of protests and unrest that roiled Iran over the past two weeks, offering a far higher number than authorities previously released.
The protests, which vented anger at high unemployment and official corruption, were the largest seen in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election, and some demonstrators called for the overthrow of the government. At least 21 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding the protests.
The official news website of the Iranian parliament, icana.ir, quoted Mahmoud Sadeghi of Tehran as saying that different security and intelligence forces detained the protesters, making it difficult to know the exact number of detainees. He did not elaborate, nor did he say where he got the figure.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has said about 42,000 people at most took part in the week of protests. Sadeghi's figure of arrested offered Tuesday would mean over 10 percent of those who demonstrated were arrested.
Iranian authorities have said that the protests are waning. In recent days, government supporters have held several mass rallies across the country to protest the unrest.
The United States and Israel have expressed support for the protests, which began on Dec. 28 in Iran's second largest city, Mashhad, but deny Iranian government allegations that they fomented them.