Niece of Iran's Supreme Leader urges world to cut ties with Tehran - online video
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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's niece, a prominent human rights activist, has urged foreign governments to sever all ties with Tehran over the crackdown on popular unrest sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody.
A video of a statement by Farideh Moradkhani, an engineer whose late father was a prominent opposition figure who was married to Khamenei's sister, was widely shared online after activist news agency HRANA said she was arrested on November 23.
"O free people, be with us and tell your governments to stop supporting this murderous and child-killing regime," Moradkhani said in the video. "This regime is not true to any of its religious principles and knows no rules other than violence and maintaining power."
Khamenei's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
HRANA said as of Nov. 26, 450 protesters, including 63 minors, had been killed in more than two months of nationwide unrest. It said 60 members of the security forces had been killed and 18,173 demonstrators arrested.
The protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for "inappropriate dress" pose one of the toughest challenges to the country's clerical establishment since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, an MP from the mainly Kurdish-populated city of Mahabad, said Sunday that up to 105 people have been killed in the protests in Kurdish-populated areas. He was speaking in a debate in Parliament, as quoted by the Entekhan website.
Citing the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, protesters from all walks of life have burned pictures of Khamenei and called for the overthrow of Iran's Shia Muslim theocracy.
The video was shared on Friday by her brother, France-based Mahmoud Moradkhani, who presents himself as "opponent of the Islamic Republic" on his Twitter account, and then by prominent Iranian rights activists on YouTube.
On November 23, Mahmoud Moradkhani reported the arrest of her sister while following a court order to appear at the Tehran Prosecutor's Office. Farideh was arrested by the Iranian secret service earlier this year and later released on bail.
HRANA said she was in Evin Security Prison in Tehran. Moradkhani was said to have previously faced a 15-year prison sentence on unspecified charges.
Her father, Ali Moradkhani Arangeh, was a Shia cleric who was married to Khamenei's sister and died recently in Tehran after years of isolation due to his anti-Islamic Republic stance, according to his website.
Farideh Moradkhani added in her video: "Now is the time for all free and democratic countries to recall their representatives from Iran as a symbolic gesture and expel the representatives of this brutal regime from their countries."
On Thursday, the United Nations' top human rights body decided by a wide margin to set up a new fact-finding mission to investigate Tehran's crackdown on security forces against the anti-government protests.
Criticism of the Islamic Republic by family members of top officials is not unprecedented. In 2012, Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, daughter of the late former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to prison for "anti-state propaganda".
Iranian authorities released activist and blogger Hossein Ronaghi on bail on November 26 to undergo medical treatment, his brother wrote on Twitter.
Concerns about Ronaghi's health had grown after he went on a hunger strike last month.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Tom Perry, Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson)
Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989
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