Iranian police kill 11, wound dozens more in protests erupting across the nation
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On the second day of demonstrations that have spread to dozens of cities nationwide, Iranian security forces on Saturday killed or wounded upwards of 90 protesters mostly in Kurdish-majority regions of the country, a rights group reported.
Protests began on Friday after Tehran passed a new regulation on subsidized gasoline. The price was previously set at 10,000 rials per liter, but the government has decided to raise it by 50 percent. It also implemented a rationing scheme, doubling that to 30,000 rials per liter for anyone having already purchased 60 liters in one month.
Many Kurdish rights groups and watchdogs, including Hengaw and Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK), reported on the number of casualties sustained during the demonstrations, which reportedly occurred in 30 Kurdish cities and towns.
Protesters chanted anti-government slogans and, in some cities, called for an end to Iran’s foreign ventures, which includes funding of various armed groups throughout the Middle East, from Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, to Yemen.
Tehran has usually deployed the militant paramilitary Basij force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to crack down on protesters.
Graphic images accompanying local reports showed people, including a teenage boy of 13, either killed or severely wounded amid a crackdown by the security forces. In the Kurdish city of Marivan (Mariwan), “a Kurdish civilian by the name of Osman Naderi and another unidentified person were killed as a result of clashes between protesters and the security forces,” according to local media organization KurdPa.
At least four deaths were reported in Mariwan, located in Kurdistan province, but major protests also took place in Javanrud (Jwanro) and Sanandaj (Sine), both in Kermanshah province. In the latter, security forces shot at demonstrators, killing one and wounding 25 others.
Hengaw has logged a total of 13 dead and 79 injured in Sine, Mariwan, and Jwanro alone. Six people each had been killed in Mariwan and Jwanro. Tehran has also almost completely shut down access to the internet, according to web blockage observatory NetBlocks.
Along with this, local authorities in the southern city of Sirjan, in Kerman Province, reportedly attempted to deter protests by sending intimidating text messages to civilians they alleged had participated in the demonstrations. Similar tactics were allegedly used in the northern region of Alborz.
“Your presence in today’s illegal gathering has disturbed the public order and is an abuse against the revolution,” read one such message posted on social media. It added, “Repeated presence in these gatherings will lead to prosecution,” signing the text with “Alborz Province Judiciary.”
Demonstrations have taken place on multiple occasions over Iran’s continued human rights violations, especially against minorities. Notable among these are Kurds, who make up a majority of the population in western provinces of the country but are denied political representation in the Iranian government.
The protests come amid underlying tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s continued violations of the 2015 nuclear accord after the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the deal and reinstitution of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed the revenue from the gasoline price hike would fund an aid scheme for low-income households, saying, “About 75 percent of people are in stressful conditions.”
Editing by John J. Catherine