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).

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
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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. 

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

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.

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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
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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
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Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan. According to this tweet the video shows Mohammad Abdollahi who is killed on July 20.
Izeh, Khuzestan
Izeh, Khuzestan
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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
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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.

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.

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.