Violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Iranian Kurdistan
Tehran accused the West and Israel of “planning” a civil war… and the assassination of an Isfahan police chief
Protests and strikes in several Iranian cities have resumed amid violent clashes between security forces and protesters, and official media announced the killing of a colonel of the special police forces on the third day of commemoration of the 2019 protests, which coincided with the start of the protests third month on the recent public protests that have shaken the country since the death of Kurdish young woman Mahsa Amini while she was in police custody under the pretext of poor veiling.
Hundreds of protesters descended on Sanandaj, a provincial center in western Iran, in a new challenge to authorities who have been working to quell protests for more than two months. The Human Rights Network in Iranian Kurdistan said at least one person was killed in deadly shots fired at the protesters by security forces, but activists claimed one person was killed.
For its part, the Oslo-based human rights organization Hinkaw said security forces killed two demonstrators in Bukan and Sanandaj, two Kurdish-majority areas, on Thursday. The organization had reported that ten people were killed on Wednesday, shot by security forces.
In Sanandaj, residents honored “4 victims of popular resistance” 40 days after they were killed, according to Henkao. A member of the security forces was also killed in Sanandaj, while large numbers of protesters were seen on the city’s streets, videotape revealed on social media.
Security forces have been accused of killing at least 10 people in a 24-hour period during demonstrations in the cities of Bukan, Kamran and Sanandaj and in Saqqez, Amini’s hometown, Kurdish human rights group Henkao reported late Wednesday.
Hencaw, who monitors human rights abuses in Kurdish cities in western Iran, said Thursday’s shootings were monitored in those four cities, in addition to other cities including Dehgolan, Ilam, Mahabad and Rawancer.
Saeed Golkar, associate professor at the University of Tennessee, said there are fears that the Iranian regime “is becoming more violent after two months of being unable to suppress the people.”
He indicated that the regime could resort to eliminating the movement, as happened in November 2019 when security forces killed hundreds of people in a matter of days.
The Human Rights Activists Agency (Hrana) said late Wednesday that the death toll had reached 362 protesters, noting that 16,033 people had been arrested during authorities’ crackdown on protest rallies in 144 cities and 140 universities. The organization pointed out that 46 members of the security forces were killed.
In an updated figure released on Wednesday, the Oslo-based human rights organization in Iran said security forces have killed at least 342 people, including 43 children and 26 women, since Amini’s death.
The city of Shiraz, the center of Fars province, turned into a battlefield after violent clashes between security forces and protesters. The capital Tehran was also the scene of violent clashes between security forces and residents of large parts of the west of the capital until late Wednesday. Despite the rain, protests have renewed in several areas of Tehran.
According to video recordings, the protests spread from cities to villages and rural areas in the southern governorate.
Iranians took to the streets of Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, in large numbers late Wednesday. Gatherings were renewed in Mashhad today and a video clip circulated of protesters chanting “Death to the dictator”. And the city’s governor announced the killing of two Basij forces and the wounding of three others.
In the city of Tabriz, the center of East Azerbaijan province, demonstrators shouted slogans in Turkish calling on Iranians to widen the scope of the protests.
On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 20 points in the capital Tehran and more than 47 cities witnessed protests and strikes amid calls to commemorate the 2019 protests. According to Reuters, 1,500 people were killed at the time, according to Iranian officials.
These developments are related to the continuation of the protests that began after the death of Mahsa Amini: during the protests, protesters vowed the “fall” to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, chanted the slogan “death to the dictator” and burned pictures of Khamenei , statues and paintings by Qassem Soleimani.
A board with pro-regime slogans in western Tehran (Twitter)
Iran accuses Western countries of fueling the protests. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in this context that Israel and Western intelligence services are “planning a civil war in Iran.”
Abdollahian claimed Israel and “the intelligence community and some Western politicians have been planning a war accompanied by the destruction and dissolution of Iran.” He added: “You should know that Iran is neither Libya nor Sudan. Today, the enemies are targeting Iran’s security and Iranian identity, but the wisdom of our people has thwarted their plan.”
A member of the Expediency Discernment Council, Muhammad Hussein Saffar Harandi, said, “All arrows are aimed at the leader,” adding, “When the mouth is opened, we hear unprecedented rude words.” And the media quoted Harandi as saying, that the public protests “caused great losses in security, investment and global reputation”. He said, “The enemies cannot establish a new (political) regime in Iran,” and accused the “enemies” of “not wanting prosperity for the people, but rather seeking chaos in Iran.”
* Conflict over recent attacks
Locally, the death toll from gunfire in the city of Izeh in northern Al-Ahwaz province (southwest) rose to 7. Izeh witnessed angry rallies on Tuesday and Wednesday, although there were no massive rallies during the two-month protests.
Shortly after the incident, on Wednesday night, government media reported conflicting information about the incident, and while government agencies said two attackers in a car fired at a gathering of Basij forces and people, websites belonging to the “Revolutionary Guard” said so At the rear of the shooting were two men on a bicycle. She referred to the dead as “martyrs”. In initial reports, state media said 5 were killed and 4 others injured.
In this regard, the French press agency quoted the government agency IRNA as saying: “A terrorist group took advantage of a gathering of protesters in front of the city’s central market to open fire on people and security officials.” The agency added that 8 people were injured including 3 police officers and two members of the Revolutionary Guards Basij troops. According to IRNA, among the victims in the city of Izeh were a woman and two children, aged 9 and 13.
Contrary to government accounts, eyewitnesses said “the dead were killed by fire from security forces.” A video clip of the body of 9-year-old child Kian Berflak was circulated and his family accused Iranian security forces of shooting him dead in a tweet published by Farda Radio. It is a Persian channel funded by the United States and based in Prague.
A family member, whose name has not been released, says in an audio recording: “He wanted to go home with his father and they were attacked with bullets by the corrupt Islamic Republic regime. Your car was attacked from all directions.
The BBC, in turn, quoted people close to the child’s family as saying that “his father was hit in the back by three bullets, after which he was taken to the hospital.”
The family of Sepehr Maqsudi, 14, one of the victims of the attack, announced that security forces “kidnapped his body.” The security forces told his family: “We are not handing over the body now because the family is concerned and he may have committed a humane act.”
This is the second attack authorities have attributed to “terrorists” since nationwide protests erupted over Amini’s death. On October 26, a religious shrine in the city of Shiraz (south) was killed in an attack that claimed 13 lives by ISIS but raised suspicions among Iranians.
Similar to the Shiraz attack, Iranian media circulated a statement from “ISIS” claiming responsibility for the attack in Izeh in the first hours of the attack, but the official IRNA agency deleted the statement this morning, hours after it was released became. Supporters of the organization said on social networks that the statement was “made up”.
An Iranian woman stands on a car amid a protest march in Bushehr governorate (Twitter)
Video footage shows some people firing Molotov cocktails at the office of the representative of Iran’s leader and the imam of Medina’s Friday prayers, ahead of reports of shootings in the city’s market circulating.
Izeh was among the hotbeds of the protests that shook Iran in December 2017 and November 2019.
Meanwhile, hours later, the Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, announced another attack in Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, in which two attackers on a motorcycle opened fire on members of the Basij forces, who belonged to the Guards, with automatic weapons. ‘ resulting in the death of two soldiers and the wounding of two others.
Later, the official IRNA news agency said that Colonel Ismail Charaghi, a commander of the Isfahan Police Special Forces, died after being seriously wounded in the Isfahan attack.
President Ibrahim Raisi ordered the concerned authorities to “act immediately to identify the perpetrators of the attack and hand them over to the justice system for punishment.”
* “mock trial”
Iran has imposed five death sentences since Sunday in connection with the protests. Amnesty International on Wednesday condemned “Iran’s appalling use of the death penalty to more brutally suppress the popular uprising.”
The London-based human rights organization said authorities are trying to impose the death penalty on at least 21 people in “show trials to intimidate” the protest movement.
“The Iranian authorities must immediately end their pursuit of the death penalty and drop all charges against those arrested for their peaceful participation in the protests,” said Amnesty International’s Diana Eltahawy. She added: “Two months after the popular uprising and three years after the November 2019 protests, Iran’s crisis of impunity allows the Iranian authorities to continue to carry out mass killings and also to escalate the use of the death penalty as a tool of political repression.”
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