22 Feb – Over 300 Sufi protesters were arrested during overnight clashes with the police in Tehran on Monday night.
The Sufi group Gonabadi, known locally as Gonabadi dervishes, held their protest in front of a police station in northern Tehran to demand the release of the members of their faith and the removal of security checkpoints around the house of their leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh.
When Iranian police tried to disperse the protestors, who were marching towards Tabandeh’s home, things turned violent and, according to police spokesperson Saeed Montazer Almehdi, five members of Iran’s so-called security forces were killed, including two members of the paramilitary Basij force.
A video circulating on Iranian social media claims to show the moment when cars ploughed into the security forces, but this video could not be independently verified.
The Sufi’s Majzooban Noor website reports that at least one protester was killed and several injured when the police opened fire into the crowd. It also says that the actual figure of Sufi detainees is much higher than reported, adding that several members were arrested at the airport.
Sufism is a denomination of Islam that has between two and five million followers in Iran, although there are no official statistics. Iran regards them as heretics and subjects them to intense and routine harassment.
Iran has been criticized often for its treatment of religious minorities.
Last year alone, the Iranian Sufis were a subject of concern for:
• A UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, who said that the Sufi “continue to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention and are often accused of national security crimes”
• The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, who said in a report that Sufis are often targeted for not conforming to Iran’s interpretation of Islam and face horrific abuses, including attacks on their prayer centres and community cemeteries as well as harassment, arrests, and physical assaults.
Hemin Sayidi, a London-based Iranian expert, said that the Sufis’ clashes with Iran could be another example of nationwide anti-government protests that have resulted in at least 50 protester deaths and over 8000 arrests.
Sayidi said: “These protest movements, be it in the name of poverty or religious oppression, indicate that people are weary of the current oppressive rulers.”
This is not the first time that the Sufis and Iran have clashed over the religious minority’s rights and freedom. In both 2006 and 2007, the Iran’s decision to close a Sufi shrine led to protests by the Sufis and a crackdown by the government forces.
- Friday, February 23, 2018
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Husband of British Aid Worker Taken Hostage by Iran Desperately Tries to Meet With Iranian Officials
22 Feb – The husband of the British-Iranian charity worker held on bogus spying charges in Iran has written to the Iranian embassy in London to try to arrange a meeting with a visiting Iranian official.
Richard Ratcliffe, who has not seen his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and their baby daughter, Gabriella, since the pair visited family in Iran in 2016, wants to meet with Abbas Araghchi, the deputy for legal and international affairs in Iran’s foreign ministry, in order to bring his family home.
Ratcliffe said: “If we manage to get this meeting, I will obviously be much more hopeful. If we don’t get the meeting, I will be keen to know what happened when [Araghchi] met with the British officials. I haven’t given up hope, but so far there is no evidence that the meeting is going to happen.”
False Charges and Ransom Demands
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked with the Thompson Reuters Foundation, is currently serving five years for the false charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.
She has always denied these charges and many believe that this is just another example of Iran taking a dual-national hostage to extract a ransom from the other nation.
The idea is that Iran will charge the dual-national with a vague national security charge and then ask the other country for more trade deals, better political relations, or even an outright cash payment.
In late 2017, Iran demanded £400 million, a British bank account for their embassy, and increased trade between Europe and Iran in order to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
It is unknown just how many dual nationals are being held on bogus national security charges in Iran, but current estimates are between 12 and 30 people, including a former UNICEF worker from the US, a Princeton doctoral student, and a Swedish disaster medicine expert.
On Wednesday, February, 21, human rights activists and ordinary people sympathetic to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s plight held a protest outside the Iranian embassy in solidarity with the Ratcliffe family.
Ratcliffe said: “I was very touched and pleased that they have come. Knowing that she is cared for and we are cared for is very important. I think it is important for [Nazanin] to know that she is not alone.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent eight-and-a-half months in solitary confinement and her physical and mental health is suffering greatly because of this imprisonment.
She was promised a temporary release in order to spend time with her daughter, but Iran changed the plans at the last minute.
- Friday, February 23, 2018
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09 Feb- According to Human Rights Watch, three child offenders were executed in Iran last month. Despite numerous human rights organisations calling on Iran to immediately put an end to this practice, the regime still continues to use the death penalty on children who committed a crime before the age of 18.
Human Rights Watch named the three young people that were executed in January as Amirhossein Pourjafar, Ali Kazemi and Mahboubeh Mofidi. They were executed for crimes they allegedly committed when they were 16, 15 and 13 years old respectively.
Amirhossein Pourjafar had signs of a “conduct disorder” according to his lawyer and he had spent time in a mental institution during his time in prison. Despite this, he was still executed.
Ali Kazemi was executed in Bushehr prison on 30th January for an alleged murder charge from when he was 15-years-old. The authorities had previously promised to halt the execution according to the Imam Ali Society (an NGO in Iran that deals with social problems with a focus on children). His lawyer, Shahriar Khoramdel, said that judges involved with the trial would not allow him to be seen by a forensic doctor to see if he was able to understand the nature of the crime committed.
Mahboubeh Mofidi was executed on the same day in Nowshahr prison in Mazandaran province. She got married when she was 13-years-old and she was sentenced to death for allegedly murdering her husband at the age of 17.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the organisation’s Middle East director, said: “Iran seems intent on erasing any positive impression gained from modest reforms to its drug execution laws last year by hanging several child offenders in a bloody start to 2018. When will Iran’s judiciary actually carry out its alleged mission, ensuring justice, and end this deplorable practice of executing children?”
Despite being a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to execute child offenders. Iran’s penal code amendments also state that child offenders should not be executed for certain crimes. Article 91 of the code gives judges discretion to not impose the death sentence if the child was too young or immature to understand the consequences and nature of the crime being committed.
Amnesty International has indicated that between 2014 and 2017, there have been at least 25 individuals executed in Iran for crimes that they committed when they were minors.
Human Rights Watch calls on the Iranian regime to put an end to the death penalty and to move towards abolishing all forms of capital punishment in the country. Whitson said: “Iranian authorities often claim they are treated ‘unfairly’ by the international community for their human rights record, but they only hurt their case when they have the shameful distinction of leading the world in executions for crimes committed by children.”
As well as carrying out executions, Iran continues to use medieval methods of punishment such as the amputation of limbs and lashing. There is no place for such cruelty and the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its actions.
- Friday, February 9, 2018
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07 Feb – Human rights abuses in Iran are plentiful, but this January has seen them soar as a result of the Iranian Regime’s crackdown on the protesters who called for regime change.
Iran Human Rights Monitor published a special report on the violations that the protesters were subjected to, but this article will do its best to cover both that and the unrelated human rights abuses.
Crackdown on protesters
Iran’s government started its crackdown with the first demonstrations, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.
At least 50 protesters were gunned down in the streets, while 12 have died under torture in prison. Some bodies were secretly buried by the Regime, with the families either unaware or threatened into secrecy, while some were dumped in front of their homes or in public places as warnings.
Of those who died under torture, the Regime has claimed that they committed suicide, despite clear signs of torture on the bodies.
In response to this, Iranian MP Mahmoud Sadeghi tweeted: “According to the relatives of one of the detainees who died in jail, he had told his family during a phone conversation [prior to his death] that the authorities had forced him and other prisoners to take pills that made them sick.”
At least 8,000 were arrested, some at the protests, some afterwards, and some who were never even at the protests, but were rounded up in case they joined the protesters. Of those arrested, 35% were students and 90% were under 25.
There are at least 15 people arrested or summoned during the protests who haven’t been seen or heard from since, including students, teachers, and engineers. Their families have attempted to find out their fates and have staged protest rallies outside of various prisons but their requests were met with tear gas and air shots by the prison authorities.
Other human rights violations
Of course, unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings are just the start of Iran’s human rights abuses during the protests. Others include the vicious beating of protesters, the extracting of false confessions under torture, the denial of adequate medical treatment to protesters, the arresting of lawyers representing the protesters.
Human rights violations not directly related to the protests
In January 2018, there was a total of 17 executions, including one public, five secrets, and three of juvenile offenders (Iran is one of the last countries to sentence children to death), despite appeals from international human rights organisations.
There are also two political prisoners who are at risk of imminent executions, but it is reported that they are being held to convince one of their fathers to hand himself in.
The Iranian security forces opened fire without warning on at least three occasions in January, killing four men and wounding a fifth. They also deliberately ran over a motorcyclist and killed him.
Deaths in custody
Two people have died in prison in Iran. One Abdul Rahman Narui was tortured to death and one Abdolghodus Amiri committed suicide after the Regime denied him adequate medical care.
The Iranian Regime carried out at least one amputation and issued seven flogging sentences in January. Some of the sentences also included jail terms, forced exile, forced labour, and even executions.
Many of these punishments were levied out for things, like having a secret relationship, drinking wine, and hunting during the offseason.
Hundreds of arrests have been reported in Iran in January based on religious or ethnic (30) social (17), and arbitrary (146) grounds. Arbitrary arrests include 36 people attending a mixed gender party, 21 underground singers, six people involved in modelling, and two musicians.
Mistreatment of political prisoners
The political prisoners have been wildly mistreated in prison with threats against their lives, the cancelling of all leave (including medical) because they refused to disavow the protests, the vicus beatings of Sunni prisoners in Rajaie Shahr Prison, and the raid in Central Prison.
They are also denying adequate medical care to many, including those under torture.
This is just a summary and the full list of crimes against the Iranian people by the Regime can be found here.
- Friday, February 9, 2018
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29 Jan – The widespread protests across Iran have now been suppressed by the Iranian Regime’s so-called security forces but it is far from over. As such, the international community should be wary of writing this off as an anomaly and preparing to condone the Regime again.
These anti-regime protests that so disturbed the Regime didn’t spring up out of nowhere. In fact, they are the continuation century-long struggle for democracy and freedom in Iran and it should be expected that the protests will occur again and again until democracy is realised in Iran.
There are many reasons for the Iranian people’s suffering under the Regime for a failing economy to mass human rights violations to inherent corruption and the international community should oppose the Regime for it.
In the West, there is much talk of the so-called reformists in the Regime. Those with more moderate views who seek a better relationship with the international community, but this is merely a smokescreen. There are no moderates in the Iranian Regime.
The Iranian people highlighted this themselves during the protests, revealing that the moderates are executing Iranians for low-level crimes while putting more money into the military at the expense of the Iranian people. The Iranian Regime is made up of squabbling factions but they are fighting over power not policy.
Ultimately, it does not make sense for the international community to call for peace, while working with the mullahs who are ultimately responsible for the violence.
The Resistance is not over
Iran is a rich country that has been robbed by the mullahs and their lackeys and the only positive aspect is that the Iranian people are fighting back.
Reza Fiyouzat wrote on counter Punch: “[The Resistance] was not crushed. I cannot be crushed. Not for long; in any given decade, or two or three, we have risen up again and again since 1905; all of those major upheavals were also marked by smaller upheavals and recurrent unrest dispersed in between. Those in charge claim fantasies of having crushed the ‘sedition’, but that’s just hopeful thinking made into statements that history shreds on a regular basis.”
Fiyouzat explains that the demands of the people during the 1979 revolution, which was hijacked by the mullahs, have not been met and the Regime will soon be unable to ignore the Iranian people who are coming together to address all of the many, many problems of the Iranian Regime.
- Wednesday, January 31, 2018
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19 Jan – The names of six young Iranians, who were killed under torture by the Regime authorities during the recent protests, have been released.
The body of Seyed Shahab Abtahi, 20, was left on his father’s doorstep with signs of baton blows clearly visible, just 10 days after his arrest in the city of Arak.
Shortly before that, street vendor Vahid Heidari, 22, who the Markazi police falsely claimed had been arrested on drugs possession charges, was also killed by baton blows while detained.
The authorities claimed his death was a suicide at Arak’s 12th police precinct, despite the fact that detainees in Arak were transferred to Arak’s central prison and then onto the Basij garrison in the Moghavemat square or the Arak Intelligence Building, which is adjacent to the Basij garrison, because of the sheer numbers of protesters that were detained.
There were 396 people arrested during the uprising in Arak and other cities of Markazi Province, according to senior regime officials.
Another protester, Hossein Qaderi, 30, who was arrested in the Sanandaj uprising died under torture in prison on January 17. The Regime has claimed that he was a drug offender rather than a protester- as if that justifies torture and death- but not even the prison clinic will confirm their lies.
Sarou Ghahremani, 24, was arrested on January 3, and also died following torture in Sanandaj Prison.
Hassan Torkashvand, 23, was protesting in Karaj when he was directly shot by repressive forces on December 30. He died of his injuries in hospital.
Worse still, the Regime is attempting to cover this up by refusing to allow families to hold funerals, withholding bodies, and threatening loved ones.
Over 40 Iranian MPs have written to the parliamentary speaker asking for an independent inquiry into the suspicious deaths but asking the Regime to investigate themselves is like asking a killer to look for bloodstains.
Shahin Gobadi, a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), wrote on Al Arabiya about the secret torture and killings of Iranian political prisoners during the protests.
He wrote: “Killing under torture in prison is unquestionably a crime against humanity. The Iranian Resistance calls on the UN Security Council, its member states, and all international human rights advocates to take decisive measures against these crimes. It also calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate the situation of prisons and unconditional release of recent detainees.”
- Sunday, January 21, 2018
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Iran’s rulers have inflicted death by torture and gunfire on citizen protesters in a crackdown since the Dec. 28 street uprising erupted, the main opposition group said Tuesday.
The Europe-based National Council of Resistance of Iran says the Islamic republic’s ubiquitous security apparatus has arrested more than 8,000 citizens and killed at least 50, all while the West has remained mostly silent. The council attributes at least five deaths to torture.
President Trump has spoken out in support of the protesters. The Treasury Department on Friday slapped further sanctions on the regime’s judiciary chief, Sadeq Amoli Larijani. Mr. Larijani has been singled out by the West for years for endorsing cruel punishments that include torture and amputation.
“As the head of the judiciary for the past nine years, Larijani is a key official in the regime’s suppressive apparatus, who has played a direct role in the execution of thousands of people, in the crackdown and arrest of dissidents, as well as in censorship and repression,” said Shahin Gobadi, a council spokesman based in Paris.
The opposition group said protests have spread to 130 cities. The protesters complain of dismal economic conditions, of military adventures in Iraq and Syria, and of being ruled by clerical Shiite Muslim hard-liners led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
- Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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12 Jan – The current Iranian protests are notable for two main reasons: geographic scope and range of grievances. Unlike previous protests, these are mainly populated by the working class, taking place in almost every city and town in Iran, without a singular cause.
In fact, here are just a few of their complaints:
• persistent unemployment
• ongoing inflation
• the ruined housing market
• long overdue wages and pensions
• unsafe labour regulations
• reduction of cash subsidies
• environmental degradation
• Ponzi schemes run by regime elites
• human rights abuses
The only thing that all protesters agree on- no matter their complaint- is that the Iranian Regime is the cause of the problem and must be evicted from the region.
Kaveh Ehsani, an Assistant Professor of International Studies at DePaul University, and Arang Keshavarzian, an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, wrote on Jacobin: “At their core, these protests are a moral outcry of the marginalized periphery against what it perceives to be a callous center and its betrayal of the social justice vision that animated and united the revolutionary forces of 1979.”
Protests against the Regime are not a new thing, there have been many thousands over the past four decades, but they don’t usually get international attention and, as a result, most protesters are dealt with brutally by the Regime in an attempt to crush the people’s spirit. Still, the Iranian people are rising up to demand their freedom; their grievances have now exploded.
Ehsani and Keshavarzian wrote: “While it’s too soon to know who the Iranians were that dared to participate in the protests, ample evidence suggests that they were neither the abject poor nor the beneficiaries of this uneven political economy. Rather, ordinary people’s aspirations have been shaped by a paradoxical mixture of anger against social and economic injustice and consumerist desires cultivated by the developmentalist state’s promises of material security and affluence.”
They were ignored by the Regime- and the world at large- so they came together and consolidated their issues into one: the ruling mullahs.
If the Regime stood any chance of remaining in power, they would quickly address the issues raised, but the Regime would rather fruitlessly attempt to suppress the Iranian people. Decades of ignoring these crises and a lack of control over large portions of the budget doled out to organizations controlled by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei have left the Regime ill-equipped to manage them and things will only get worse before the Regime falls.
Ehsani and Keshavarzian wrote: “The government may try to alleviate tensions by rewriting the budget and reinstating the subsidies and cash payments that it had planned to slash. A new round of highly publicized anti-corruption cases may also be a means for the regime to argue that it is taking action and responding to social demands. But the social realities of those living on the jagged edges of Iranian society will persist. What makes the demonstrations against malfeasance and the calls for political change and social justice powerful is the fact that the protesters are accusing Iran’s rulers of violating the revolution’s commitment to a moral economy.”
- Sunday, January 14, 2018
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5 Jan – As deep-seated unrest among the citizens risks Iran becoming the next Syria, let’s take a look at how those on the ground have been affected by the disastrous decisions of the Iranian government.
These protests initially began because of a sharp increase in the cost of living, but soon turned into a wide-ranging demonstration against everything that this wrong with the Regime.
Mohsen, 20, a protester in Karaj, expressed despair at the state of the economy- which has been horrendously mismanaged- and the high unemployment rates.
He said: “I’m in university now, but I know it’s a waste of time. I won’t have a job after this. I wouldn’t have a job if I didn’t go to university. I’m just waiting out four years. But there’s no future for me. . . for any of us.”
His older brother Ali, 25, is an unemployed mechanical engineer and Mohsen fears that if Ali can’t get a job, then he won’t be able to either.
He said: “Ali is much smarter than me, and if he can’t get a job, then I definitely can’t. That’s why I’m protesting. What future do I have to live for?”
This is an incredibly troubling situation, especially when you consider that their family is living month-to-month because everything is so expensive. Mohsen is thankful that at least they don’t have rent to pay, as his father, Hossein, a veteran, bought the three-bedroom apartment that they live in back in the 1990s.
Hossein took part in the 2009 Green Movement protests with Ali. He noted that Mohsen had never shown any political inclinations before now.
Mohsen’s mother, Fatemeh, is worried about her son’s safety at the protests- at least 21 have been killed and 450 arrested so far.
She said: “Mohsen and my nephew, Meysam, go to the protests every evening. As a mother I’m worried about them and don’t want them going. But I know they are frustrated. Things have to change. But I don’t want my son and nephew to pay a price for it when the government cracks down.”
Another person concerned about the economy is a thirty-five-year-old dentist, Ahmad, who is not quite ready join the protests.
He said: “I work at a dental clinic where a lot of our patients are working-class folks. Today I talked with all of my patients about the protests. Some of the families really rely on the cash transfers (yaraneh) the state has given them, and they’re worried Rouhani will take the cash transfers away. The cash transfers aren’t much anymore with the inflation. But still, how will they make ends meet? I feel the weight of the high food prices, and I’m a dentist who drives around in an expensive SUV and owns an apartment. I cannot fathom how my patients live with the prices of everything being so expensive.”
Indeed, inflation in Iran is now at 17%. This situation has only been made worse by corrupt politicians and businessmen who have embezzled millions of dollars, including the scandal of convincing Iranian’s to deposit their life savings into worthless investments.
The economy is not the only issue though; many protesters are demanding the release of political prisoners, the overthrow of the supreme leader, or even the downfall of the entire regime.
In an attempt to quell the protests, the Iranian Regime slowed down or even blocked the internet in order to disrupt communication amongst the protesters and to the outside world. State media, which is mainly controlled by the Khamenei faction, have featured the protests but in a heavily sanitised form to paint President Hassan Rouhani as the only problem rather than acknowledging the hatred for the Regime as a whole.
They have also doctored photos from previous protests- including the 2011 Arab Spring protests in Egypt- and blaming foreign governments for instigating the protests to mislead people about the nature of the protests.
Accusing foreign governments of interfering in their domestic affairs is pretty rich from the Iranian Regime but again, it misses the point. The Iranian people are protesting for themselves- not on behalf of anyone else.
Mohsen said: “We’re tired of waiting for the situation to get better. It’s not getting better… It’s never the right time. I’m tired of waiting for the right time.”
- Sunday, January 7, 2018
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1 Jan – Fear and confusion within the regime more than ever before as the uprising of the Iranian people is escalating
On the fourth day of the nationwide uprising, Khamenei the supreme leader remains silent. Rouhani, the regime’s president, also canceled his speech yesterday. Iran daily, associated with Rouhani, announced, “in light of recent events and several days of conflict in different cities of the country, the president will speak on these incidents in a couple of hours”. However, two hours later, one of Rouhani’s spokesmen said, “There is no speech in Rouhani’s program today.”
Meanwhile, the mullahs’ regime shut down schools in Tehran and many cities under the pretext of “air pollution” for today and tomorrow.
However, on the fourth day of the nationwide uprising of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs’ regime, the regime’s officials were compelled to acknowledge the anger and disgust of the people against the regime and the extent of the uprising.
The mullahs’ interior minister said today, “The events of the last few days have caused concern, sadness and discomfort for our dear people, and … the created atmosphere …. Has damaged the security of the country.” Everyone knows that the meaning of “dear people” and “the country” is nothing but the criminal gangs and corrupt mullahs of this regime who have destroyed Iran’s assets and have killed the people for 39 years.
The mullahs’ interior minister, whose fear of the uprising could be seen in his every single words, said: “Those who attempt to destroy public property, and create unrest and lawlessness, and undermine the people’s security, are responsible before the law and should be held accountable for their behavior and pay its cost.” He added, “Those who misused the cyberspace and used it for the purpose of destroying security, irregularity, law-breaking and destruction of the people’s property, have shown that it was just an excuse to use this capacity.”
Meanwhile, Mehr, the state news agency, wrote today that the PMOI /MEK”is behind the recent turmoil and manages it.”
Ali Asghar Nasser, the security and law enforcement deputy of Tehran governorate, said “A few individuals yesterday disrupted the people’s comfort, and they were arrested quickly.” He added these few people! Threw “stones at the police force, damaged police vehicles, and broke windows of the banks and …”.
Despite regime, official try to damp the nationwide uprising, the scope of the unrest against the mullahs’ regime continues to spread and includes vaster parts of Iran.
In Tuyserkan, the people booed the anti-riot unit that was making a lot of noise to intimidate the people. The regime’s mercenaries fired tear gas to disperse the protesters. The people set ablaze a government vehicle in front of the governorate. Following a brutal attack of the Revolutionary Guards on the crowd, one of the demonstrators was martyred, and some other wounded. The angry people chanted “Down with Khamenei” and set fire to a government vehicle and many parts of the governorate.
In Doroud, the brave people were demonstrating while chanting “death to the dictator”, and “Vigilant people, Support, Support”, and “Fellow citizens, we are waiting for you.
In Tehran, in the Enqelab (Revolution) Square, the police attacked the people who were chanting “Death to Dictator”; however, it turned to a clash. At the University of Tehran, while the security forces are stationed in front of the university, the students are chanting “No embezzlement, No JCPOA, just Resistance”.
At Azadi Square in Kermanshah, the police attacked the crowd and it turned to clashes. The criminal IRGC forces severely beat and injured the youth. A government vehicle was burnt by protesters.
In Ardabil, the anti-riot guards attacked the protesters at the Khomeini intersection.
In Ardebil, fighting with anti-riot forces continues.
In Sanandaj, the people chanted “Political prisoners must be freed”, and clashed with anti-riot guards.
In Khorramdarreh, the regime’s mercenaries attacked the protesters which turned into clashes. The anti-riot guards threw tear gas at people.
In Behshahr, the repressive forces severely battered the demonstrators.
In Ahwaz, courageous young people seized the vehicle of a special unit.
In Chabahar, people chant, “So many troops have come against (Supreme) Leader”.
In Hamadan, Aligudarz and Urmia, people continue their protests by chanting anti-regime slogans.
- Wednesday, January 3, 2018
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