Nearly 800 births to child brides in first half of Iranian year

According to birth statistics published by Iran’s National Organization for Civil Registration, in the first half of the Iranian year 1400 (March 20–October 6, 2021) girls between 10 and 14 years of age gave birth to 791 children. ISNA reports that these figures are preliminary and may well increase. The state of Sistan and Baluchistan saw the greatest number of births to girls under the age of 15, with 248 such births. Khuzestan saw 92 such births.

In February, the Statistical Center of Iran published a report on the societal and cultural situation in the country which stated that, in the summer of 2020, a total of 9,058 marriages involving girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were registered. According to the report, the marriage of girls in this age range increased compared to the previous year.

According to Iranian law, the minimum age of marriage for girls is 13, while for boys it is 15, but marriage for girls younger than 13 is not completely prohibited and is subject to the permission of the girl’s guardian or the courts. The women’s group in the 10th Majles (2016–20) proposed a complete ban on the marriage of girls under the age of 13 and an increase in the minimum age for marriage, but their proposal was rejected by the Judiciary Commission for religious reasons and because it was deemed to be “imitating the designs of the West.”

Experts on Iranian human rights issues emphasize that the physical and psychological harm caused to girls when they are married at such a young age can do irreparable damage, ranging from maternal mortality to dropping out of education, staying trapped in a cycle of poverty, depression, and suicide.

Iranian police force to introduce women’s “anti-riot” unit

In an interview with Tasnim News, Hassan Karami, commander of the police force’s special units, created in the early 1970s to suppress popular protests, announced that a special “anti-riot” unit for women was being set up. Karami said that the women’s unit would not carry batons while on patrol.

Karami said he considers the motorcycle force to be the most important of the special units, proudly observing that “in November 2019, each of our motorcyclists in cities such as Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan sometimes traveled up to 270 kilometers in a day and night; that is, they had a point of conflict and then went on to another point.”

Karami also claimed that the special police units carry only non-lethal weapons, including hoses, paintballs, and rifles that fire soft plastic bullets. Although the January 2018 protests over rampant inflation involved more than 160 Iranian cities, Iranian authorities claimed the death toll was only 25 people.  In the week-long November 2019 protests, sparked by a hike in gas prices, the estimated death toll ranged from 300 (Amnesty International) to 1,500 (Reuters), many of whom were shot in the head or heart.

Haft Tappeh protests enter third week; ex-CEO sentenced to 20 years

Former Haft Tappeh CEO Omid Asadbeigi was convicted this week of interfering with the foreign exchange market and smuggling foreign currency (there were two separate smuggling cases, totaling 1.4 billion euros) and sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to return all the smuggled assets. Although Asadbeigi’s conviction is a great victory for the Haft Tappeh sugar mill workers’ movement—which had been calling for his dismissal and trial since 2018—it addresses only one aspect of the workers’ demands.

The new round of Haft Tappeh strikes and protests, now entering its third week, has seen workers holding demonstrations in front of various government buildings around Shush, including the state and county offices, with protesters saying they will not desist until all of their demands are met.

According to ISNA, after the seizure of Haft Tappeh from Asadbeigi—announced in May and executed this August—the government handed over its administration to the Nishkar Development Company. The workers don’t see the new management as a positive development, especially since trust in government promises is as low as ever. For example, there has been no progress on the fulfillment of delayed and unpaid wages, a central demand of the recent protests.

Another of the workers’ demands was that fired colleagues be allowed to return to work. Over the years of Haft Tappeh labor protests, a number of workers, including Esmail Bakhshi, Mohammad Khanifar, Salar Bizhani, and Iman Akhzari, were imprisoned and are still barred from returning to their jobs. In their protest on Thursday, the Haft Tappeh workers reemphasized their commitment to the return of their coworkers.

Additionally, they demanded an end to the persecution of Farzaneh Zilabi, the Haft Tappeh workers’ attorney who has fought to have their demands addressed, with a protest in front of the Shush justice department. Zilabi has been sentenced to a year in prison and forbidden from leaving the country for two years for the crimes of “propaganda against the regime” and “acts against national security.”

Human rights activist Sepideh Qoliyan seized by security forces

Human rights activist Sepideh Qoliyan, who was on medical leave from a prison sentence, was seized in an assault on her sister’s home in Ahvaz by security forces and transferred to an unknown location. On October 11, Qoliyan’s brother Mehdi made public her arrest via Twitter, writing that around 30 agents had set upon their sister’s home, where Qoliyan was visiting, and taken her. The agents also confiscated the family’s mobile phones.

Qoliyan was arrested during the Haft Tappeh sugar mill workers’ strike in 2018 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. According to HRANA, she reported to prison in July 2020, and in August of this year was granted leave due to a COVID-19 infection. During her leave, Qoliyan exposed the degrading conditions women face in Bushehr Prison, where she had served most of her sentence to date.

Attorney Amir Raisian tweeted on October 14 that Qoliyan contacted her family after two days of silence and said that she had been taken from Ahvaz to Bushehr and then from Bushehr to block 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison. The government appears to be building a new case against Qoliyan for her revelation of the conditions faced by incarcerated women in Bushehr.

Political prisoners attacked by violent convict in Greater Tehran Penitentiary

HRANA reports that a number of political prisoners have been severely beaten by an inmate with a violent criminal record in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, where there is no separation between political and nonpolitical prisoners. Labor activists Shapour Ehsani Rad and Esmail Gerami, Twitter activist Akbar Faraji, alleged MEK supporter Pouya Ghobadi, and Akbar Bagheri—an ordinary citizen who took part in a protest when he lost his savings to a financial depository’s bankruptcy—were injured in the attacks and transferred to the prison’s medical unit.

According to reports posted to Twitter, the prisoners were transferred to a different block of the prison after the attacks, but a political prisoner, Hossein Qashqaei, who remained in the block where the attacks occurred, said in a telephone conversation that his life was still being threatened. Twitter users say that the prisoners’ assailant, identified as Gholam Bozorgar, remains in the same block as Qashqaei. Hossein Qashqaei is an online and social media activist who was arrested last year and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the revolutionary court on the charge of “propaganda against the regime.”

This isn’t the first time that Iranian political prisoners have been subjected to attack by inmates convicted of violent crimes. In 2019, 21-year-old Alireza Shirmohammad Ali was stabbed to death by two violent prisoners. Shirmohammad Ali had been sentenced to eight years for insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.

Bushehr residents vocally protest Raisi’s visit

Several groups of Bushehr residents held protests at the local airport last Friday in anticipation of the arrival of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi. The protestors shouted chants decrying the country’s deteriorating economic situation and ongoing human rights transgressions. According to videos posted to social media, protesters chanted “Justice is a lie.”

Meat consumption plunges as economic strain on Iranian households mounts

A Tejarat News report quotes Ali Asghar Maleki, president of the union of lamb meat producers, stating that a severe drop in the consumption of meat by Iranian families has resulted in the closure of 10 percent of the butcher shops in Tehran.

A report published a month ago by Iran’s Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare noted the decline  in Iranian meat consumption, which it said had fallen by 50 percent in the 2010s. According to the report, the per capita monthly meat consumption of the lowest income decile fell from 2.6 kilograms in 2011 to 1.2 kilograms by 2019. 

The precipitous fall in red meat consumption is a clear consequence of Iranians’ waning household incomes, which declined more than 22 percent over the 2010s. While many families have been substituting eggs for red meat as a source of protein, ILNA reports that last summer the price of eggs went up tenfold, such that a single egg now costs 2,000 tomans—about .50 USD; by comparison, the average price in the United States as of August was less than .15 USD.

Labor unrest grows in Iran as sugar workers, coal miners, teachers stage job actions

The autumn wave of Iranian labor strikes and protests continued this week, with job actions by employees of the Haft Tappeh sugar factory in Khuzestan, miners in Kerman, and teachers in many Iranian cities.

According to reports on social media, the Haft Tappeh workers, who began their strike last week, will continue striking and reiterating their demands that the company’s privatization be reversed and returned to government ownership so axed employees will be rehired and back wages paid. The Haft Tappeh workers gathered to protest in front of the Shush city hall on Monday.

On Monday, private sector coal miners in Kerman also continued demonstrations that they kicked off last week to protest their low wages compared to coal miners working in the public sector. The news site Eghtesad 24 has reported that police attacked the protesters with water cannons, which resulted in injuries to a child and a woman from one of the miners’ families.

Teacher protests in cities across the country have also continued into this week. Radio Farda reports that teachers in Isfahan, Rasht, Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Ahvaz, and Tehran, where protesters gathered across from the Majles building, have been protesting low wages.

Iranians suffering steep decline in purchasing power

The news site Rouydad 24 reports that although income and wages in Iran have increased by an average of 30 percent over the past 12 months, the rate of inflation has surpassed 50 percent in the same period. The rising price of food, in particular, is creating severe financial strains on Iranian households.

Historically, the rate of increase in food prices one year has been matched by comparable salary hikes the following year, but for two years in a row food prices have soared far beyond wage increases. According to the report, “this catastrophe has created the biggest drop in household purchasing power.”

Citing data from the Statistical Center of Iran, the report says that the rate of inflation in food prices in the three lowest income deciles reached 60 percent in August, which is without precedent over the last four decades. At the same time last year, food inflation in the lower income deciles was 21 percent.

The president of the union of grocery stores and meat markets, Saeed Derakhshani, said in an interview with the Entekhab website that “the rise in the price of consumer goods and the decrease in purchasing power has caused the rate of sales in our union to fall to its lowest, and that’s why 15 to 20 percent of the grocery stores and supermarkets in Iran have closed their doors.”

New flare-up of labor strikes, protests in Iran

Labor strikes and protests, which swept Iran early this summer, have begun to heat up again after tailing off for much of August and September. According to a report by Radio Farda, on September 26, in cities across the country including Ardabil, Isfahan, and Delfan in the state of Lorestan, teachers took to the streets to protest the government’s failure to advance them to the proper levels in the payscale system, thus suppressing their salaries.

In Tehran, meanwhile, a group of teachers known as the Green Report have been protesting the lack of new hires every day for the past two weeks outside the Ministry of Education. Although the members of the group have passed the national teaching exams, they have yet to be assigned to work.

ILNA reports that, on September 26, workers from the Mobin Road and Mining Company gathered in the city of Babak outside of their workplace and the municipal police headquarters in protest of poor working conditions and the arrests of four fellow workers. A day earlier, current and retired employees of Homa Airlines gathered in front of the Ministry of Roads to protest low salaries.

Last week, workers from the Fajr Jam refinery in the south of Fars Province, the South Pars/North Dome Gas-Condensate field, Pars Ghodrat Contracting in Kangan, and the Steam Company in Bushehr went on strike again—two months after they last walked out—due to contractors breaking their promises to improve working conditions and raise salaries.

HRANA reports that at least 15 worker protests have taken place around the country in the past two weeks. Aside from the ongoing Green Report campaign described above, these protests have included employees of Tehran’s Azadi Stadium and the Kut Abdollah municipality, Bandar Emam petrochemical workers, a group of laid-off workers from Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Cultivation Complex, and a retired teachers’ protest in Shiraz.

51,000 Iranian children have lost a parent to COVID-19

Habibollah Masoudi Farid, deputy for social affairs of Iran’s State Welfare Organization, estimated in a September 18 interview with Jam-e Jam newspaper that 51,000 Iranian children have lost their mother, father, or both to the COVID-19 pandemic. Masoudi Farid said that the Welfare Organization is able to support only those children who are in need of a guardian or are in dire economic circumstances, not every child who has lost a parent in the pandemic.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, banned the import of coronavirus vaccines produced in the US and UK in January 2021. While according to official statistics, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Iranians, Health Ministry officials say that the real death toll is likely two to three times the official figure.

Amnesty International calls for release of Iranian rapper Toumaj Salehi

Amnesty International is calling for the unconditional release of Iranian rapper Toumaj Salehi, who the group says has been imprisoned for practicing his freedom of expression.

Social media users have been reporting that Salehi was arrested on September 13. The Independent’s Persian edition describes 21 state security agents converging upon the musician’s house to carry out the arrest. Salehi, who is from Isfahan, is known for songs criticizing economic inequality, the Islamic Republic’s domestic and foreign policies, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and especially the 25-year cooperation agreement Iran signed earlier this year with China. In one sons, Salehi points the finger at the Islamic Republic’s political elites and those who lobby for them outside of the country. Some social media users have been saying that Salehi is currently in solitary confinement and that he will stay there for a month. The hashtag #Free Toumaj has been circulating on Twitter and other platforms.

MP slams massive state prepayment for Barekat vaccine, yet to reach 5% of production goal

In a Shargh newspaper report on why vaccinations have picked up recently after having stalled under the Rouhani administration, Majles representative Ali Tajernia says that Rouhani’s health minister, Saeed Namaki, was against importing vaccines because mass amounts of the locally produced Barekat vaccine (officially, COVIran Barekat) had already been paid for in advance. The MP said that the producer of the vaccine, the state-owned Shifa Pharmed company, “received 200 thousand tomans for every dose of the vaccine, and if we want to do the math for 120 million vaccines,” Shifa Pharmed would have received about $5.7 billion. Meanwhile, according to Tajernia, not even 4 million Barekat doses have been produced to date.

Shargh’s requests for comment from Shifa Pharmed, the Pasteur Institute—co-creator of the Pasturecovac vaccine, whose production has been even more minimal—and Actoverco—local producer of Russian-formulated Sputnik vaccine doses, all apparently destined for foreign distribution—were met with silence. A physician identified as Dr. Simin Kazemi told Shargh, “Issues such as the production of multiple domestic vaccines, often of uncertain efficacy . . . the struggle over the importation of vaccines by certain factions, and entrusting the importation of vaccines to private corporations, all of that sent a message to society that the health system here is not prioritizing public health, and that those in charge of society and its health are looking out for their own personal and factional interests over those of the people.”

Growing Iran water shortages due to poor crop choices, desert-based steel factories

In a new report, Tejarat News attributes Iran’s water crisis to a reduction in the country’s renewable water sources. The report gives two main reasons for this: first, poor agricultural practices, such as the planting of crops including watermelons and rice that require intensive irrigation in regions with insufficient water; second, the growth of steel industry operations, which again rely on large amounts of water, in the heart of the Iranian desert, including the Mobarakeh Steel complex (Isfahan), Saba Zagros Steel Factory (Borujen), Amir Kabir Arak Steel, Damghan Desert Steel, Fasa Steel Company, Yazd Steel, and Kerman Steel Industries. According to statistics from the World Steel Association, Iran produces 30 million tons of steel annually, which uses approximately 21 billion cubic meters of water. Citing the latest figures from Iran’s Water Resources Management Company, the Tejarat News report notes that as of July, the total amount of water stored by the country’s dams was 25 billion cubic meters, barely more than the needs of the steel industry alone. Where steel factories don’t rely entirely on dammed water, many have private wells that, along with 800,000 other wells across Iran, draw daily from crucial aquifers, which are increasingly being depleted.

Iranian mothers denied their children’s school transcripts

Shargh newspaper reported on Monday that the Ministry of Education sent a notice to the parents of schoolchildren in May that students’ files and transcripts can be given only to fathers and that, “respectfully,” mothers are not able to receive these documents. Shargh spoke with a few irate mothers of schoolchildren who called the notice an insult. The notice was sent out four months ago, while the Hassan Rouhani administration was still in office.

Russian firm to distribute all its Iranian-produced vaccines abroad

In an interview with Javan newspaper, Mohammad Karimi Nia, deputy director at Iran’s Biological Defense Agency, asked whether Iranians are up against a criminal cartel in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines as they are in the country’s pharmaceuticals market, responded, “Yes, and to give you an example, the contract for 2 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine per month between the Iranian company Actoverco and the Russian company Sputnik was signed in Iran. It was then widely publicized in the national media that soon there would be 2 million Sputnik vaccine doses add to the Iranian market every month, but in July, deputy health minister Dr. Raisi informed us that the Russians had defrauded us. If the Russians defrauded us, then why don’t you all take this complaint to the international level? Why don’t you tell people the truth?” In the interview, Karimi Nia said that, in fact, the contract between Sputnik and Actoverco was a form of outsourcing and that the vaccines produced in Iran were never meant to go to Iranians in the first place.

Alireza Raisi, spokesperson for Iran’s Coronavirus Response Headquarters, said in a July 19 conversation on Clubhouse that, according to the contracts, Iran is only home to the production line, and the Russians have the right to distribute any vaccines produced by Actoverco outside of the country.


➾ Also see: Iran’s Big Pharma Leaves Patients in a Bind

Iran’s ports agency deeply corrupt, claims Tehran MP

IRNA reports that Mohammad Khezrian, a Majles representative from Tehran, alleges vast corruption in Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, saying that “70 percent of the largest oil ports in the Persian Gulf have been handed over to someone who is one of the country’s biggest debtors.” Khezrian, who did not name the “debtor,” added that “the contract was for 25 years at first, but with just one form from the bank and absent any accounting or transparency, the contract changed to a 40-year one.” The MP said that “all of the decision makers in this handover have just become the shareholders and members of the board at this company. We must follow the obvious traces of collusion and corrupt rent-seeking in this handover and the Majles must conduct an investigation.” 

Khezrian also said that the parliament had received numerous reports of violations by the Ports and Maritime Organization—a branch of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development—including the recent handover of the Bandar Shahid Rajaei territory to a company by the name of Daryapeikar. The details of the handover are not publicly known at present.

Addressing the financial particulars of the Ports and Maritime Organization, Khezrian said that the PMO’s books were not at all transparent about its dealings with other agencies and corporations or how its directors are compensated. The PMO’s directors receive enormous salaries according to the available financial documents, but the agency is unwilling to provide proof of payments made to them.

Iran educators’ group blasts government response to pandemic as “mass murder”

The Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations has released a statement calling the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic tantamount to “mass murder.” The statement declares that Iran’s COVID casualties are “victims of tyranny, recklessness, and of course, mafia interests,” which “profit hugely from domestic vaccine production and the import of expensive medications.” Iran’s official COVID death rate (which multiple experts in the country say reflects a gross undercount) currently stands at 1,278 per million—two-and-a-half times the death rate in Iraq, Iran’s neighbor to the west, which has an almost identical GDP per capita; 11 times the death rate in Pakistan, Iran’s much poorer neighbor to the east.

In December 2020, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei barred US- and British-developed vaccines from Iran, though a few million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were eventually imported under the strained rationale that Cambridge-headquartered AstraZeneca is a “Swedish company.” Two domestically produced vaccines, while still in clinical trials, received emergency use authorization in June: COVIranBarekat, developed by the state-owned Shifa Pharmed Industrial Group, and Pasteurcovac, the product of a collaboration between the Pasteur Institute of Iran and Cuba’s Finlay Institute of Vaccines.

The educators’ statement also protested the incarceration of six lawyers who intended to bring officials responsible for mishandling the pandemic to account, asserting, “These lawyers’ case is the case of the majority of the Iranian people. We demand their immediate, unconditional release . . . and we emphasize that the perpetrators and decision-makers who have shaped the situation we have today, wherever they are, must be held accountable, and if they are find guilty, they must be punished.”

On August 14, six lawyers who had planned to pursue cases against individual officeholders culpable in the government’s failings in response to the crisis were arrested. Four remain in jail: Mostafa Nili, Arash Keikhosrow, Mohammadreza Faqihi, and Mehdi Mahmoudian. Leila Heidari was released after one day and, according to Radio Farda, Maryam Efrafaraz was released on August 29 with a bail of 500 million tomans (about $120,000).

Ali Larijani: Health Ministry blocked import of 18 million Chinese vaccine doses

ISNA reports that former Majles speaker Ali Larijani said in a Clubhouse meeting that “although I wasn’t responsible for it, I negotiated with the Chinese to get vaccines sent here. They were supposed to send 18 million doses at an affordable rate, but some officials from the Health Ministry caused a delay and the vaccines were never sent.” Larijani, who served as parliament speaker from June 2008 until May 2020, said that the negotiations took place last July, the same month that China started providing vaccines to members of high-risk groups.

Larijani made the comments after Tehran Chamber of Commerce president Masoud Khansari tweeted that the Health Ministry had prevented 6 million doses of Chinese-produced vaccines from being imported by the private sector.

Health statistics expert: government vastly undercounting Iran COVID-19 deaths

Koroush Holakoui Naini, statistics and epidemiology professor at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, said in an interview with the IRGC-affiliated Javan newspaper that the real death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran has been vastly underreported by the government. Last October, deputy health minister Iraj Haririchi stated that the actual number of deaths was twice the official figure, which includes only those tested for the coronavirus. That same month, Medical Council member Hossein Qeshlaqi said that the real number of COVID deaths was three to four times higher than the government’s count.

In the Javan interview, Holakoui Naini noted that “100,000 deaths is the official figure. Even Health Ministry officials say the real numbers are two or three times that, and I say that, in certain areas, the numbers are as much as seven times higher” than officially reported. Discussing how this could be proven, he said that the government data has been “engineered in such a way that it became impossible to prove anything with documents.” He pointed to the fact that “you have Dr. Zali saying that we told lies to the WHO.”

Alireza Zali, chief of Greater Tehran’s coronavirus response task force, said two weeks ago that Iran “hid mortality statistics” from the World Health Organization.

Hacked security videos from Evin Prison reveal brutal treatment, dire conditions

On August 23, an online account named “Ali’s Justice” sent video footage evidently hacked from the security camera system inside Tehran’s Evin Prison to Radio Farda and the Associated Press. The images include scenes of brutal encounters between prison guards and inmates and show the prison’s surveillance control room the moment the hack was revealed. In one video, Evin Prison warden Hamid Mohammadi takes a picture of a bank of monitors before turning around and staring for a moment into the security camera recording him. 

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The Associated Press spoke with four former inmates of Evin, as well as an Iranian human rights activist living outside of the country, who confirmed that the videos appear to be from inside the prison in north Tehran. The footage shows prison guards looking at a message that takes over all of their monitors: “Evin Prison is a stain on the black turban and white beard of Raisi! Protests everywhere until all political prisoners are freed.” The message implicitly references the mass murder of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, in which Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s new president, played a decisive role as deputy prosecutor general and member of the four-man “death committee” that ordered the killings at Ayatollah Khomeini’s behest. Many of the mass killings took place within Evin Prison.

The Islamic Republic government and its affiliated institutions had no public reaction during the first 24 hours after news of the hack broke. Eventually, Prisons Organization chief Mohammad-Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi put out a tweet saying that he took responsibility for the unacceptable behavior in Evin Prison, but rather than apologize to the inmates, he apologized to “the dear leader” and “the honorable prison guards.”

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Nearly 14,000 COVID deaths in Iranian month of Mordad

With the deaths of 674 people on Sunday, August 22, the number of COVID-19 victims in the Iranian month of Mordad (July 23–August 22) came to an official total of 13,975. This brings the number of COVID-19 victims officially recorded across the country since the beginning of the pandemic to 101,354, as represented in an ISNA (Iranian Students’ News Agency) infographic. According to an IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency) report, Monday, which was the first day of the Iranian month of Shahrivar, saw a death toll of 610 people, with conditions still dire in cities including Tehran and Mashhad. Asr-e Iran reports that employees at Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery are having to work triple shifts to bury all of the COVID-19 victims.

COVID deaths among fully vaccinated Iranians disproportionately high

According to a report from the Statistics and Information Technology Management Center, 2,072 Iranians out of the 2.85 million who had received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the time of the study have died, about 700 “breakthrough” deaths for every million people fully vaccinated (counting only those hospitalized at least two weeks after the second dose). By contrast, on July 26 the US Centers for Disease Control reported a breakthrough hospitalization rate of 0.003%—30 per million—and a breakthrough death rate of just 8 per million.

The report suggests that reasons for the high breakthrough fatality rate in Iran include the use of inferior vaccines (all those so far used in Iran have been imported from China and Russia) and failure to observe recommended vaccine administration schedules. To date, including those who received their second doses after the Statistics Center’s study period, fewer than 5 million Iranians—less than 6 percent of the country’s population—have been fully vaccinated.

Iran COVID-19 daily death toll officially passes 600

Six hundred and twenty-five Iranians lost their lives to COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to a statement by the country’s Health Ministry. The figure was virtually unchanged from Monday, when the death toll was 620. Alireza Zali, president of Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, said that the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals has increased 10 percent from the previous week. Two weeks ago, when the official daily death toll was still below 400, an infectious diseases expert estimated that the actual figure was between 700 and 800.

According to a report in Etemad newspaper, there is a growing campaign demanding that those responsible for mishandling the pandemic and failing to import sufficient vaccines be held legally accountable. In an interview with ILNA (Iranian Labor News Agency), Abdollah Samami, vice president of the Iran Central Bar Association, said that under Article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code, “disrupting the public health system” and committing criminal acts “against the physical integrity of individuals” is punishable as “corruption on the earth”—that is, as a capital offense. Samami called on the attorney general to declare that such crimes have occurred—as with, for instance, the failure to provide vaccines—and to pursue the relevant officials for prosecution.

Despite reports indicating that only 4.4 million people (just over 5 percent of Iran’s population) have been fully vaccinated, the current social studies textbook approved by the Ministry of Education states that Iran is among the countries that have most successfully handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 crisis in Iran grows increasingly dire

As the COVID-19 crisis in Iran turns grimmer by the day, taxi drivers in Mashhad have been asked to help transport corpses to cemeteries due to the lack of available ambulances. Etemad Online posted video taken at Mashhad’s Qaem Hospital showing 12 corpses inside the morgue, with five others on a waiting list to be registered and an additional dozen or so being dispatched for burial. Unconfirmed figures posted on social media suggest that, on Thursday alone, at least 300 people in Mashhad lost their lives to COVID.

Emam Reza Pharmacy, Mashhad

Images taken in hospitals around the country, with patients sleeping on the floor, and in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery and multiple graveyards in Mashhad demonstrate that conditions on the ground are substantially worse than what the sanctioned media portrays.

Erfan Mardani, director of public relations at Jundishapur University, wrote in his personal Twitter feed that hospitals in Khuzestan Province have nowhere near enough beds and that medical staffers are dropping “like autumn leaves.” Hossein Farshidi, president of medical sciences at Hormozgan University, said that two weeks of absolute lockdown are necessary to break the chain of infections and bring the situation under control. Members of the national anti-coronavirus task force have unanimously opposed suggestions of a two-week lockdown.

Mashhad
Behesht Zahra cemetery, Tehran
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Coronavirus: long pharmacy lines, scarce and costly medications

Although Moeini Zandi, vice president of the pharmaceutical importers’ union, said in a recent interview with Tejarat News that the country has no issues with the provision of pharmaceuticals and that reports of exorbitant prices are untrue, social networks have been abuzz with discussions of the high price and scarcity of medicines, especially those used to treat COVID-19.

At a time when Iran is deep into its fifth wave of the coronavirus, convalescent serum—which Iranians purchase at a pharmacy then bring to a doctor for the therapeutic procedure—as well as unproven but popular COVID medications such as favipiravir pills and vials of remdesivir are increasingly difficult to find. People in line at Tehran’s famous 13th of Aban Pharmacy on Karimkhan Zand Avenue told Fars News that the website of the national Social Security Organization, which had provided information about where to purchase medications at subsidized prices, was not operating. When medications can be tracked down, they are often being sold at three or four times the government’s set rate.

Remdesivir, for instance, is being distributed to some neighborhood pharmacies at a government-set price of 200,000 tomans (about 50 USD) per vial, but the number of pharmacies in the state distribution chain is limited, as is their supply. Given the restricted availability at such locations—and now the difficulty in even identifying them—the result has been the extremely long lines seen at such major institutional pharmacies as 13th of Aban, operated by the Iranian Red Crescent Society, and, in southern Tehran, the Army-run 29th of Farvardin Pharmacy. Others are simply paying the much higher “free market” prices. Fars News reports that a serum dosage is going for 100,000 tomans and vials of remdesivir are selling for 700,000 to a million tomans. According to a report in Farhikhtegan magazine, the prices of some drugs already on the market before the pandemic that are now used as COVID-19 treatments have risen by well over 1,000 percent. 

https://twitter.com/sinahosseini/status/1424756482835419145?s=20

Health minister nominee on record opposing vaccine imports

Bahram Einollahi, President Raisi’s nominee for health minister in his new administration, is among the Iranian medical professionals who this past January signed the notorious letter addressed to former president Hassan Rouhani opposing the import of foreign vaccines. The signatories specifically called for the rejection of vaccines of US and British origin, suggesting that they “can cause unknown and sometimes irreversible side effects.” The letter was written after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had already declared that the import of any foreign vaccines would be banned. Einollahi, an ophthalmologist, is a professor at the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and has been working in the Revolutionary Guards’ Medical Division. Among the other signatories of the letter is Alireza Zakani, recently elected mayor of Tehran.

Khamenei to blame for Iran COVID deaths say Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi

Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi, celebrated Iranian filmmakers whose artistic and intellectual independence has made them targets of the regime, have blamed Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the coronavirus-related deaths of their fellow Iranians. Rasoulof shared a video of Khamenei’s comments from January 2021 in which the ayatollah banned the import of any COVID-19 vaccines made in the US or the UK and wrote in a tweet, “This video shows who is issuing the orders. These ‘orders’ and the ‘agents’ responsible for this mass murder will be remembered by millions of Iranians. The day for justice will come.”

Jafar Panahi shared the same video of Khamenei to his Instagram account and wrote, “Isn’t it finally time for these people to be held accountable for their contradictory remarks? Doesn’t putting the lives of 85 million Iranians at risk and causing the death of hundreds of thousands deserve accountability?”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CSgdglNoCnl/?utm_medium=copy_link

#SOSIRAN trends in reaction to COVID-19 death toll

Twitter hashtag use spikes as deaths reportedly reach 30 an hour.


As COVID deaths continue to climb in Iran, social media users have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration over the Islamic Republic’s disregard for human life. 

#SOSIRAN is trending on Twitter, with users saying that the regime is committing genocide in the country with its refusal to purchase COVID vaccines. The Iranian Theater Forum, the only organization to openly take a stance on the matter, released a statement on Tuesday criticizing the failure of Iranian officials to manage the COVID crisis. “History will judge you and your failure to carry out your responsibilities. . . . We do not deserve to see one Iranian die every two minutes.”

On Monday, Reuters quoted a report on Iranian state TV which disclosed that every two minutes an Iranian dies from COVID and every two seconds an Iranian contracts the disease. Many social media users have been referencing the same figures. 

Earlier this month, an Iranian health expert put the number of daily COVID deaths at between and 800. Official figures, meanwhile, put the death toll, for example, at 378 on August 2 and 542 on August 8. A death every two minutes is a daily rate of 720.

In unprecedented remarks on Wednesday, the head of Iran’s COVID taskforce, Alireza Zali, acknowledged the mismanagement of the crisis, saying that officials did not purchase Western vaccines due to their expense.

“We shouldn’t be worrying about the cost of the vaccine,” Zali said. “We should be buying it even at double the price and vaccinating people. We have spent 720 million euros [$845 million] on remdesivir when we should have spent this amount on the vaccine. How is it that despite sanctions we are willing to pay three times more for oil equipment and we can’t do the same with the vaccine?” 

Zali also revealed that when WHO experts came to Iran, officials hid death statistics from them and instead of seeking their help “asked them to praise the Iranian healthcare system in the media.” He said that even though Iran did not really know much about COVID-19, it refused to allow in doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières and turned them back at the airport.

“We have only enough vaccines for five more days and we cannot increase vaccination rates,” Zali added. “If we had more vaccines, we would double the number of vaccination sites.”

300 demonstrators reported arrested in Susangerd

According to a report on the Khuzestan protests in Hamshahri newspaper, 300 demonstrators in Susangerd have been arrested. While Khuzestan residents’ ability to access social media is severely limited due to governmental internet blocking in the region, a number of accounts and videos of police assaults on the homes of citizens in cities around Khuzestan Province have been posted in recent days. According to several of these accounts, police were going door-to-door and carrying off at least one family member from every home. 

Names of some of those said to have been arrested in Khuzestan have been published to social media, but they remain unconfirmed. Several reports on social media claim that a substantial number of those arrested in the Khuzestan protests are teenagers. Seyyed Karim Hosseini, Majles representative for Ahvaz, in an interview with ILNA (Iranian Labor News Agency) said that there was no official count of the number of teenagers arrested but did not deny that they were among those detained. 

https://twitter.com/sonofthebeach33/status/1423652043860885518?s=20
https://twitter.com/sonofthebeach33/status/1423652043860885518?s=20
https://twitter.com/sonofthebeach33/status/1423652369708077063?s=20

Mobarakeh steel workers join wave of strikes

In protest over low wages, workers at the Mobarakeh Steel Company in Isfahan have gone on strike, joining the spreading labor protests across the country,  unverified videos circulating on social media show. Led at first by job actions in the oil and petrochemical industries, over the past 40 days workers have been going on strike throughout Iran. 

Daily COVID deaths in Iran approach 800 says infectious disease expert

A health expert says as many as 800 Iranians have been dying of COVID-19 in recent days, apparently contradicting a government report that fewer than 400 people died of COVID on August 2.  

Payam Tabarsi, head of the Infectious Diseases Center at Darabad’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital, speaking on Good Morning Iran August 3, said that the daily COVID-19 death toll across the country was now between 700 and 800. He added that with over 5,000 hospitalizations and 37,000 Iranians testing positive for COVID, August 2 had been one of the country’s worst days since the beginning of the pandemic. “With this number of patients,” he said, “the healthcare system is collapsing.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the semi-official Islamic Students News Agency (ISNA) reported the government’s tally of COVID deaths over the preceding 24 hours: 378. As a point of comparison, the official COVID death toll in the United States, with four times Iran’s population, in the same period was 454.

On Monday, Iran’s outgoing deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi, said that compared to last week the number of outpatients testing positive for the virus had risen by 26.5 percent, and that the number of COVID hospitalizations and deaths increased by 22 and 38.2 percent, respectively. Harirchi also stated that nine out of every ten Iranian cities were red or orange COVID-19 zones. 

Anti-government protests intensify across Iran

Riot police attacked peaceful protesters in the heart of Tehran, according to a video posted online, as more cities across Iran joined the anti-government movement.

New, unverified videos show a peaceful rally in front of Tehran’s City Theater on Valiasr Street, with demonstrators chanting slogans in support of Khuzestan protesters. In one video, police are seen attacking protesters while the sound of shots being fired can be heard in the background. 

Footage uploaded to social media in the past three days also show nightly demonstrations in the Narmak and Tehranpars neighborhoods of Tehran, with protesters chanting slogans against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. 

Other unverified videos show large protests in the cities of Arak, Rasht, Mashhad, and Shushtar. 

The Islamic Republic has shut down the internet in Khuzestan, where protests began over two weeks ago in response to severe water shortages. The internet shutdown has hindered uploads of new protest videos and news updates from the crisis-hit province. Social media users, however, have been reporting a heavy presence of security forces and widespread arrests in cities across Khuzestan.

Tehran – Demonstrations in front of Ta’atre Shahr (City Theater) on Saturday, July 31

Tehran – Demonstrations in Narmak and Tehranpars neigborhoods on Friday, July 30

https://twitter.com/AlinejadMasih/status/1421517342710788099

Arak

Golestan District of Baharestan County (Tehran)

Rasht

https://twitter.com/FattahiFarzad/status/1421364015717101570

Mazandaran

Shushtar

Mashhad

Iran pushes ahead with internet censorship bill

The Majles, Iran’s parliament, has voted in favor of a bill to restrict Iranians’ internet access in a move that could further isolate the country’s citizens from the free flow of information.

Only about two-thirds of Iran’s 288 MPs cast ballots in the July 28 vote on the bill, the “Users’ Rights Protection Plan for Cyberspace.” The tally was 121 in favor, 74 opposed.

The bill envisions blocking access to all “foreign messaging apps” and social media platforms. Only apps and social media platforms that obtain permits to be used in Iran will not be blocked by the government. Furthermore, social media users will no longer be allowed to use any such platform anonymously, according to the text of the legislation published by IMNA (Iran’s Metroplises News Agency).

The Majles vote comes following repeated calls by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for more internet restrictions. In his remarks this March on the occasion of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, Khamenei called for more stringent management of “cyberspace” in the country, saying it was not “something to be proud of” that Internet access was “unrestricted” in Iran and that it should be “regulated.” 

“People should be allowed to use the internet, which is a tool for freedom, but this [cyber] space should not be surrendered to the enemy.” 

Iranian social media users have taken to Twitter to protest the internet censorship bill using hashtags such as #Internetshutdown in English and others in Persian, including the following:

نه_به_طرح_صیانت#

نه_به_اینترنت_ملی#

صیانت_از_فضای_مجازی#

صیانت_از_حقوق_کاربران#

طرح_صیانت#

Central Tehran witnesses anti-regime demonstration

Unconfirmed videos shot in the last 24 hours and uploaded to social media show protesters chanting slogans against Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Republic in central Tehran. The demonstration took place around the intersection of Jomhuri Street and Sheykh Hadi Street, a major commercial hub known as the Istanbul Crossroads or Istanbul Square by Tehranis. 

Hamidreza Gudarzi, deputy governor for security for the state of Tehran, claimed that the recent power outages are the reason for the gathering in front of the Aladdin 2 Shopping Center and that the demonstration was prompted by a two-hour power outage earlier in the day. The Tejarat News website published a video of the protest and also claimed that it was only in response to the power outages, but other videos of the event show protesters chanting slogans against the Islamic Republic system.

https://twitter.com/AlinejadMasih/status/1419698415492022278

Tabriz rises up in solidarity with Khuzestan

On the tenth day of protests that have now spread around Iran, unconfirmed reports on social media say that citizens of northwestern Tabriz, the country’s sixth-largest city, have taken to the streets, with demonstrators shouting slogans in support of the protestors in Khuzestan, where demonstrations began a week and half ago in response to severe water shortages.

Special riot police units hidden in office buildings tried to disperse the protesters. At first, the protesters tried to win them over, chanting the slogan “Police, support, support.” As that effort evidently failed, protestors’ chants eventually included curses against the police and security forces.

Videos posted online from Tabriz suggest that police have been using pellet guns and plastic bullets to suppress the demonstrations.

There are unconfirmed reports that rallies in solidarity with the Khuzestan protestors have also been held in Ilam, on the Iraqi border, and in the far northeastern city of Bojnord.

Ilam
Bojnurd, North Khorasan

Iran enters second week of protests as anti-regime sentiment spreads

The Khuzestan protests are raging into their eighth day, with demonstrators on the streets in the cities of Mahshahr, Ahvaz, Izeh, Masjed Soleiman, Susangerd, Shadegan, Dezful, Khorramshahr, and Abadan. Internet blockages throughout the province have severely restricted citizens’ ability to access social media and upload videos of the protests and the government’s violent response. In those videos that have become available over the past 24 hours, the heavy presence of police and paramilitary forces can be seen in the cities and the sound of continuous gunfire can be heard, especially in Mahshahr, Ahvaz, and the Lorestan Province city of Aligudarz.

In addition to Lorestan, protests have also broken out in cities in other neighboring states, including Kermanshah, Bushehr, and Isfahan.

https://twitter.com/Cathal_kati/status/1418570065822236672?s=20
Kermanshah
Mahshahr, Khuzestan
Mahshahr, Khuzestan
Dezful, Khuzestan
Ahvaz, Khuzestan
Ahvaz, Khuzestan
Injured protesters in Ahvaz, Khuzestan
Injured protesters in Ahvaz, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Shahinshahr, Esfahan
Bandar Ganaveh, Bushehr

Aligudarz protestor reported killed

Reports indicate that in Aligudarz, where protests have been severely repressed, at least one person, named Omid Khosh Azar, has been shot to death by riot police.

The “Khabar Online” Twitter account has confirmed the death of one person in Aligudarz.

Videos uploaded to social media depict the anguished cries of women in an Aligudarz hospital. Many protestors in the city in Iran’s western Lorestan Province have been injured by pellet guns, and many are said to have been arrested.

https://twitter.com/Freedom_0222333/status/1418338577528750080?s=20
https://twitter.com/Freedom_0222333/status/1418338577528750080?s=20
A hospital in Aligudarz

Citizens protest, clash with Basij in heart of Iran

New unverified videos on Twitter and other social media show protests in Yazdanshahr, a neighborhood in Najafabad in Isfahan Province, several involving clashes between protesters and Basij paramilitary forces.

ttps://twitter.com/1500tasvir/status/1417910211336097794?s=20

Iran protests spread to more cities in Khuzestan and around the country

Protests in cities across the southwestern province of Khuzestan continued on Thursday, July 22. Twitter and other social media networks, as well as mobile phone service, have reportedly been blocked in areas around the province. The protests, which began last week in response to severe water shortages in the region, have increasingly taken on an anti-regime character.

NetBlocks confirms disruptions in Khuzestan’s internet service.

https://twitter.com/netblocks/status/1417969603171524608

Despite the internet blockages in Khuzestan, videos have been published today depicting protests in Ahvaz, the provincial capital, as well as the cities of Izeh, Susangerd, Ahvaz, Lordegan, Shush Danyal, Mahshahr, Masjed Soleiman, and Behbahan. Riot police can be seen lobbing tear gas at protesters, while the sound of gunshots can also be heard. Videos taken after such clashes show young protestors with wounds apparently sustained from pellet guns and rubber bullets.

There are unverified reports of multiple arrests and the killing of two young protesters named Issa Baledi and Hamid Majd Jowkar in the Khuzestan city of Jarahi. Official Iranian media have also reported that some protesters have been arrested.

Protests spread to other Iranian states

Wednesday night saw protests spread to other cities across Iran, including the provincial capitals of Kermanshah, Bushehr, and Khorramabad (Lorestan Province) and Ganaveh in Bushehr Province. It appears that the largest protests outside of Khuzestan last night took place in Najafabad, Isfahan Province, where marchers took to the streets as soon as the sun set. Protestors chanted “Death to the dictator,” along with slogans in support of the people of Khuzestan and the late Shah of Iran. One video shows a group of Bakhtiaris waving white shrouds (denoting their willingness to be martyred) in the direction of Khuzestan to show their solidarity with protesters there.

https://twitter.com/Tiaragalaxymi61/status/1418174984623636481?s=20

In Tehran, the Iran Music House and the Iranian Writers’ Association announced their support of the people of Khuzestan. They demanded an end to the repression of the protests and strikes. A small group of Iranian cinema figures also gathered in the Iranian Artists’ Forum to display their solidarity with protesters in Khuzestan.

Susangerd, Khuzestan
Shush Danyal, Khuzestan
Masjed Soleiman, Khuzestan
Masjed Soleiman, Khuzestan
Behbahan, Khuzestan
Mahshahr, Khuzestan
The route from Shush to Ahvaz, Khuzestan
Lordegan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari
Ganaveh, Bushehr
Ahvaz, Khuzestan
https://twitter.com/patriotismaan/status/1417948069468020739?s=20
Ahvaz, Khuzestan
https://twitter.com/etelaf10/status/1417940339533524993?s=20
Ahvaz, Khuzestan
Susangerd, Khuzestan
Susangerd, Khuzestan
Yazdanshahr, Esfahan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Azna, Lorestan
Karaj, Alborz

Four more protestors reported killed across Khuzestan

On Thursday, the sixth day of protests in Khuzestan that had seen citizens chanting slogans about the lack of water, demonstrators in Izeh began shouting “Death to Khamenei” and “We don’t want the Islamic Republic.” The protests against government policies that have resulted in a water shortage in the southwestern province began this past weekend, heightening in intensity on Tuesday as protests raged in Ahvaz, the provincial capital, and the cities of Susangerd, Abadan, and Izeh. Violent confrontations have ensued between protesters and police in Izeh, 110 miles northwest of Ahvaz, with police firing tear gas at the demonstrators. The sound of tear gas canisters being repeatedly launched can be heard on videos of the protests. Due to the summer heat in Khuzestan, the protests are mostly being held at night.

The names of four protesters killed by police or paramilitaries have been posted to Twitter (though these have yet to be independently verified by recognized news organizations, self-identified family members have confirmed the deaths in each case): Hadi Bahmani, Meysam Acharesh, Farzad Farisat, and Mohammad Abbas Elkanani. The four men were killed in Izeh, Mahshahr, Ahvaz, and Shush, respectively. Earlier this week, the names of three other protestors reportedly killed by police were published online: Mostafa Naimavi, Qassem Khaziri, and Ali Mazraeh. Unconfirmed videos of the protests are circulating on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
https://twitter.com/FattahiFarzad/status/1417551031433564169?s=20
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan. According to this tweet the video shows Mohammad Abdollahi who is killed on July 20.
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
https://twitter.com/nXshort/status/1417561162363904000?s=20
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Maroon Bridge on Behbahab-Ramhormoz road is blocked by the protestors.
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan

Protests are ongoing in the cities of Ahvaz, Dezful, Abadan, Darkhovin, Shalamcheh, Mahshahr, Susangerd, and Shadegan, with police resorting to tear gas and firing upon people to in attempts to disperse the protesters. Unconfirmed reports state that Mohammad Korushat, a protester who was critically injured in protests in Ahvaz on Monday, passed away on Wednesday.

Abadan, Khuzestan
Ahwaz, Khuzestan
Susangerd, Khuzestan
Ahwaz, Khuzestan
Susangerd, Khuzestan
Ahwaz, Khuzestan
Ahwaz and Dar Khwain, Khuzestan
https://twitter.com/etelaf10/status/1417600717028798467?s=20
Dezful, Khuzestan
Abadan, Khuzestan
Khorramshahr, Khuzestan

Photos have been posted to social media depicting the government dispatching tanks and other military equipment in their effort to suppress the Khuzestan protests.

Mahshahr, Khuzestan
https://twitter.com/nXshort/status/1417391445560934400?s=20
Ahwaz airport, Khuzestan

Tehran

There are also videos informing of the presence of military forces in the streets of Tehran. Calls to get into the streets in solidarity with Khuzestan have also been circulating on social media, but the presence of police on the streets is designed to keep this from happening. However, videos have been uploaded showing protesters at the metro in Karaj and Sadeqiyeh shouting slogans against the Islamic Republic system, the IRGC, and Ali Khamenei.

https://twitter.com/BehrangRahbari/status/1417550564355887107?s=20
Tehran, Karaj Metro station

This cartoon shows the government giving the people bullets instead of water.

https://twitter.com/FTMH167/status/1417484295447457794?s=20

Why are you burning, why are you shooting?

In some of these videos, citizens say they have carried out peaceful protests. “We didn’t even use political slogans. Don’t say tomorrow that the youth lit fires, the government lit the fires and we were putting them out while they shot at us without letting up.”

Ahwaz, Khuzestan

In another video that has been widely shared, a woman addresses the police, saying, “Our protest is peaceful, why are you lighting fires? They didn’t take your land, they didn’t take your water, now listen. We want peaceful protest. Why are you shooting?”

Iran water shortage protests continue for sixth day

Protests in Khuzestan Province, southwestern Iran, prompted by water shortages entered their sixth day. According to unverified tweets, three people have been killed in the city of Izeh. Other videos on Twitter show demonstrations in the cities of Abadan, Khorramshahr, and Dar Khowein.

In Tehran, a number of human rights activists including Narges Mohammadi were taken into custody but released after a day. 

Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan

Khorramshahr:

Khorramshahr, Khuzestan
Abadan, Khuzestan
Human rights activists including Narges Mohammadi protest in front of the interior Ministry in Tehran. 

Protesters reportedly shot at in Ahvaz and Susangerd

According to unverified tweets and videos, a number of demonstrators protesting water shortages in the Khuzestan Province cities of Susangerd and Ahvaz have been injured by police and Basij paramilitaries. There are multiple accounts of police and Basij firing bullets and tear gas at protestors.

The fifth night of protests in the city of Ahvaz. July 19, 2021
The fifth night of protests in the city of Ahvaz. July 19, 2021
Alavi neighborhood in the city of Ahvaz
Ahvaz and Shadegan
https://twitter.com/Sheina__/status/1417229463641800711
Ahvaz
Susangerd

Violent government response to water shortage protests in Khuzestan

Unverified videos have been published to social media depicting protests against the lack of water in various cities of Khuzestan Province, including the capital, Ahvaz, as well as Khorramshahr and Susangerd. Other videos have been posted showing violent police repression of protesters in Khuzestan. Iranian journalist Ehsan Bedaghi tweeted that a young person had been killed, the fourth person to be killed in the protests. Mostafa Naimavi, Qassem Khaziri, and Ali Mazraeh are the names of the three other protestors reported to have been killed by the police.

The videos indicate that the protests began last week and are ongoing.

The victims’ names is mentioned in this tweet.

On July 18, Sharq and Etemad newspapers published reports about the Khuzestan protests, neither of which mentioned the police repression or the loss of life.

Workers at Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Company go on strike again

Labor activist Esmaeil Bakhshi has announced on Twitter a new round of strikes by workers at the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Company, in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan Province. The workers are demanding the company’s owner be removed and the firm placed under state control, as well as the payment of unpaid wages, which they have not received since May. The strikers have also demanded the reinstatement of fired workers and the renewal of all work contracts.

The Haft Tappeh strike occurs as workers from approximately 100 contracting companies in the oil and petrochemicals industry around the country have already been on strike for most of July, with their demands still unanswered.

Iran privatizes exploitation rights to thousands of state mines

Last week, Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade purportedly auctioned off the use of 6,000 mines without any official announcement on its website. News of the alleged auction was first published in a Tejarat News interview with Mineral Manufacturers and Importers Union secretary Kamran Vakil on July 6. In the interview, Vakil said that the mines’ reserves are valued at around 150 billion USD. He claimed that the massive auction was carried out in silence so that the mines could be transferred to individuals who “own rent.” The Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade responded to the Tejarat News report by calling it false and a “delusion.” According to official statements from the ministry, the mines were put up for sale due to lack of use and that the intent behind the supposed auction was to revive the mines through cooperation with the private sector. Vakil had previously claimed that the mines were not inactive, but rather had been handpicked as especially high-quality sites.

In a press conference Tuesday, July 13, Rouhani administration spokesman Ali Rabi’i responded to questions about the rumors surrounding the Tejarat News report. Rabi’i said that the order to privatize exploitation of the mines had come directly from the supreme leader’s office and that since the mines were considered part of “anfal,”* they hadn’t actually been sold, but rather the rights to use them had been assigned online between May 9 and May 17. Rabi’i also said that nepotistic business practices were not possible during the online process. There have been no reports of how long the assignment of the mining rights to private hands is intended to last.


* In Ja’fari Shi’ite Islamic jurisprudence, “anfal,” in addition to its principal meaning relating to spoils of war, also refers to ownerless property, natural resources such as rivers, beaches, forests, and mines, all of which is the property of an infallible Imam. In the Islamic Republic regime, the management and use of “anfal” is determined by the supreme leader.

Sistan and Baluchistan’s problems camouflaged for minister’s visit

The visit of Saeed Namaki, Iran’s minister of health, to Sistan and Baluchistan has created more problems for the embattled province, which is currently experiencing its third COVID-19 wave. Provincial hospitals that Namaki was due to visit dismissed patients after three days, regardless of their condition, to demonstrate that they had enough empty beds and were not in crisis. Local news outlets have reported on the early dismissals, which in a few cases are said to have resulted in patients’ deaths.

Fars News produced a photoreport showing hospitals in Zahedan hastily outfitted before the health minister’s visit to create a facade of normality.

Though authorities claim the pandemic is under control in the region, Sistan and Baluchistan remains in a dire situation. One member of an emergency aid group that was called to the province said that the daily coronavirus death toll was 22 or 23. Local sources claim that in Zabol County alone between 15 and 17 have been dying every day.

Moeinoddin Saeidi, the Majles representative for Chabahar, openly criticized the COVID-19 response in Sistan and Baluchistan, saying that “according to official statistics, 32 people have died; however, the number of deaths resulting from coronavirus in the villages are not recorded anywhere due to a lack of testing kits and ID cards.” In Sistan and Baluchistan Province, many people living on the margins of cities or in far-flung villages do not have Iran’s national ID card; as a result, they are frequently unable to access medical treatment, and their illnesses and deaths often go unrecorded.

Online matchmaking now entrusted to the IDO

In March, Nooshin Nabaei, deputy minister of sports and youth, announced that all matchmaking sites are illegal in Iran and that no entity is empowered to issue licenses for such sites. Four months later, Tebyan, a site run by Komeil Khojasteh Baqerzadeh, the nephew of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s wife, reported the introduction of an app called Hamdam, designed to provide counseling and matchmaking services for young people.

Present at the unveiling ceremony for the app was Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the current Majles speaker and a close associate of the Khojastehs, and Hojatoleslam Qomi, president of the Islamic Development Organization of Iran (IDO).

Tebyan operates under the umbrella of the IDO, which is under the direct supervision of the supreme leader. 

The name, logo, and even the color scheme of the app exactly duplicate the attributes of an app that was released four years ago by the IranCubator project, run by members of the Paris-based feminist organization Spectrum. The original Hamdam informs women about their reproductive and legal rights.