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 join 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

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.

Iranians travel to Armenia for vaccinations

Photos have been published on social media showing a line of Iranian travelers waiting to enter Armenia to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Armenia has announced that, starting next week, foreigners who enter the country for vaccinations must spend at least ten days there. Since a ten-day stay in Armenia is prohibitively expensive for most Iranians, many are trying to get into the country before the rule goes into effect.

ILNA reports that 18,000 Iranians have traveled to Armenia in just 48 hours.

With COVID-19 cases growing in recent days in what is being called the fifth coronavirus wave in Iran, Iranians have been traveling to neighboring countries that are cheaper to stay in and do not require a visa.

Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, has prohibited the import of any Western-made vaccines. Over the last few months, the Russian Sputnik and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines have been imported in limited quantities and designated for healthcare professionals and individuals age 70 and older. ILNA reports that 7 million Iranians have been vaccinated, out of a total population of roughly 83 million.

The Iranian Health Ministry has issued emergency authorization for the domestically formulated Barakat vaccine, but it does not appear that mass production of it will be possible in the foreseeable future. There have been multiple news reports on problems in the vaccine production line, though these claims have been officially denied.

Iranians protest electricity outages in multiple cities

Against the backdrop of ongoing strikes by oil, petrochemical, and livestock workers, prolonged power outages in many Iranian cities have sparked a new wave of protests. Over the past few days, the electricity in Tehran and various other cities, including Mashhad, Isfahan, Kazerun, Shiraz, Dezful, and several locations in Mazandaran Province, has been cut frequently, for long periods, and without advance notice. In some cities, including Tehran, residents went without power for eight hours. The power outages have also put patients’ lives in further danger: A video making the rounds on social media shows a doctor announcing the death of two patients in a hospital’s cardiac care unit due to the power outages. Physician Mohammadreza Hashemian said that, in the time between power outages and the connection of ventilators to the emergency power supply, patients are in danger and that some have even lost their lives this way. Social media users have also reported that a produce market in Shiraz caught fire due to repeated power outages.

Citizens of Kazerun, Dezful, the Kahrizak region of Tehran, Rey, and many other cities in Mazandaran Province have gathered outside the local power and electricity authority facilities to protest and shout slogans against Iran’s energy minister. There are unconfirmed reports that protesters in Kazerun actually set fire to the local power department. Videos circulating on social media also show that, while citizens suffered through power outages, the numerous projectors shining light on the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini were still on, as was the power at some of Qom’s seminaries.

In some cities, including Tehran, protesters angry about the power outages chanted “Death to Khamenei.”

Farmers protesting in Isfahan and Khuzestan

Protests have now spread from the industrial sector to agriculture. On Tuesday, Isfahani farmers gathered in front of the Isfahan provincial capitol building to protest water policies and the government’s negligence of the Zayanderud River. Police attempted to disperse the protesting farmers, beating some with batons.

Khuzestan farmers gathered in front of the Khuzestan Water Authority headquarters to protest the lack of water, both for individual consumption and agricultural uses. Khuzestan is facing a crisis of potable water, and many of this oil-rich province’s cities and towns simply cannot meet the demand. As if a lack of water wasn’t enough of a problem, the province also faces chronic electricity shortages.

Workers from the pest control division of the Haft Tappeh sugarcane company also entered the 11th day of a general strike.

In the city of Assaluyeh, daily water and food rations were cut to put pressure on the workers to break the strike and deter further ones.

COVID-19 crisis in Sistan and Baluchistan grows

Although many of Iran’s provinces are still deep in the throes of the COVID-19 crisis, the situation in Sistan and Baluchistan Province is particularly dire. According to sources on the ground in the city of Zabol, between 37 and 40 people are now being infected each day; fewer than 20 new cases per day were recorded during the initial wave of the pandemic. Official statistics show that 60 percent of recent COVID-19 tests have come back positive. The severity of infections is such that, in some cases, every member of an affected family comes down with COVID. Moeinoddin Saeidi, the Majles representative for the city of Chabahar, said that more than 1,200 new cases are being identified in the province every day.

Sistan and Baluchistan Province is one of Iran’s most underdeveloped provinces, and as a result, hospitals and other healthcare facilities outside of the provincial capital of Zahedan are small and rudimentary. During the first week after the initial Iranian cases of COVID-19 were detected, two hospitals in Iranshahr, one of the province’s largest cities, were forced to tell patients they were unable to perform lung scans due to missing or faulty equipment. Hospitals in the cities of Chabahar and Khash are also lacking in facilities and have had similar problems meeting the needs of COVID-19 patients. The province’s villages and smaller towns lack hospitals altogether, resulting in a problematic influx of patients from these areas into larger cities’ hospitals. Local sources say the hospitals and even the morgues are at full capacity. Residents of Sistan and Baluchistan have responded to the overflow of medical facilities by trying to procure their own medical equipment, especially oxygen capsules, should they need to take care of themselves at home. Health Minister Saeed Namaki called the claims of overcapacity “agitation” and said that there were 400 empty beds in provincial hospitals, but a document posted online shows that orders to build two field hospitals have been issued.

In keeping with the trend in recent years of Iranian citizens organizing to meet needs unaddressed by the government, people from around the country have rushed to Sistan and Baluchistan’s aid, with grassroots charity groups pooling resources to buy necessary health and pharmaceutical supplies, such as oxygen capsules, oxygen machines, and medicinal/nutritional serum, all of which have been scarce and sometimes impossible to find in recent days; when available, prices for such supplies have doubled or even tripled. Some sources also report that Iran has rejected Doctors Without Borders’ offer to send medical teams to Iran to deal with this latest uptick in the COVID-19 crisis. Due to the gravity of the COVID-19 situation in Sistan and Baluchistan, the provincial authorities have issued a statement announcing the closure of all provincial institutions.

Joint project between Iran and Cuba to produce COVID-19 vaccine canceled

Production of the Cuban coronavirus vaccine, which was planned as a joint project between Iran and Cuba, has been canceled. Doctor Minoo Mohraz, a member of Iran’s scientific committee to combat the coronavirus, said that after the third phase of the Cuban vaccine’s clinical trials in Iran, the Cuban ambassador announced that Cuba no longer had a shared project with Iran and that priority would be shifted to their own country and others in Latin America.

Dr. Mohraz said that in terms of the Iranian vaccines, only the Barakat vaccine has received an emergency approval license to be produced; other vaccines are still in the second or third phase of testing. At the end of June, IRGC commander Hossein Salami announced the production of the Nora vaccine. At the unveiling ceremony for the vaccine, which according to Dr. Mohraz has in fact yet to go into production, Salami claimed that the new vaccine would be provided to the US and impoverished countries.

Last year, shortly after the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards unveiled a supposed coronavirus-detecting device, which later turned out to be ineffective. The device, dubbed “Masta’an,” had in fact been previously sold to the government as a drug-detection device.

Failed COVID-19 response plunges province of Sistan & Baluchistan into humanitarian catastrophe

Moinuddin Saeidi, the Majles representative for Chabahar, said in an interview with a reporter from ILNA that in Sistan and Baluchistan Province more than 1,000 people a day are being infected with COVID-19, and that the outbreak has created a humanitarian catastrophe. Saeidi demanded accountability from officials at the Ministry of Health and asked them to explain why the country’s vaccination campaign, especially in Sistan and Baluchistan, is in such a poor state.

According to a Tehran Bureau correspondent, the Coronavirus Disease Management Headquarters in Sistan and Baluchistan Province has announced that due to the escalating rate of COVID-19 infections, all government offices, judiciary facilities, and banks will be closed as of tomorrow, July 3.

Ahmadinejad implicitly mocks Khamenei in video

Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took an implicit swipe at Ayatollah Khamenei, saying he feels sorry for the “person” who called the recent presidential election an “enormous victory.”

In a video released by SolsMedia on Twitter,  Ahmadinejad says, “One feels sorry, firstly for the country, secondly for oneself, and then for the person who says this election was an enormous victory.” 

Earlier in the week, Ali Khamenei described the recent elections as “epic,” saying that efforts on social media to diminish “the enormity of this election” were futile.

SolsMedia, which is affiliated with Ahmadinejad, also released a video of Supreme Leader Khamenei from 2001 in which he says, “It is disgraceful for a nation to have 35 percent or 40 percent of eligible voters turn out [to vote]. This shows that [those] people do not trust, do not care for, and have no hope in their political system.”

The 2021 presidential election saw the lowest voter turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic, with only 48.8 percent of eligible voters participating.

Ahmadinejad, who was disqualified from running in the 2021 presidential race, has been vocal about his criticism of the supreme leader and his family.

Widespread strikes by Iranian oil and petrochemical industry workers

Since June 22, oil and petrochemical industry workers from across Iran have been participating in a general strike, uniting under the banner of what they are calling the “2021 Campaign.” As part of the campaign, they have posted videos of their strikes, which include job action dates and locations, to social media. The Sina Palayesh Qeshm refinery in Tehran, Bushehr Petrochemical, Setareh Damavand Oil Holding, Arak Machinery, Shaludeh Shayan Behbahan Contractors, Mobin San’at, Aslaviyeh Phase 13, the Jasek Oil Well Project, and Kangan Phase 13 are among the companies whose workers have gone on strike.

Although state media have yet to publish any news of the strikes, ILNA, the Iranian Labour News Agency, released a report criticizing the low-wage employment contracts common in the oil industry. ISNA (Iranian Students’ News Agency), in another report that made no mention of the strikes, addressed various problems workers face in the current contracting system. The strikes, now a week old, continue.

Livestock and agriculture workers’ strike

With the Iranian oil workers’ strikes continuing to grow by the day, workers in the livestock industry in Yazd, Kerman, Fars, and Razavi Khorasan provinces joined the widespread job action by striking on Monday. In protest at falling milk prices even as the price of livestock feed remains high, they have been dumping the contents of milk containers onto the ground.

Also on Monday, farmers in Isfahan protested a lack of water and the drying up of the Zayanderud River, with clashes breaking out between the farmers and police. The farmers broke through the fences around the Isfahan Water Organization facility and tried to enter the complex, with the goal of getting more water into the Zayanderud River. The Isfahan farmers were the first group of protesters to use the slogan “Our enemy is right here, they lie to say it’s America” back in April.

IR leader says invalid votes are votes for the Islamic Republic system

Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, said yesterday that the invalid votes cast in the recent presidential elections were also votes for the Islamic Republic system. He insisted that people had come to the polls, but, not having seen their favorite among the candidates listed, had written in their own preferred candidate or cast a blank, “white vote.” According to Khamenei, both of these kinds of votes in fact indicate the people’s support for voting and for the Islamic Republic system.