Iran security forces intensify deadly crackdown in Kurdish areas

November 21, 2022
Mourners chant anti-government slogans at the funerals of two protesters in Javanroud, Bahaadin Vaisi and Irfan Kakai, Monday. — courtesy Hengaw
Mourners chant anti-government slogans at the funerals of two protesters in Javanroud, Bahaadin Vaisi and Irfan Kakai, Monday. — courtesy Hengaw

TEHRAN — At least 30 anti-government protesters have been killed by security forces in Kurdish-populated cities in west Iran in the past week, a rights group says.

Hengaw reported that seven had died since Sunday in Javanroud alone, amid an intense crackdown by Revolutionary Guards armed with heavy weapons.

On Monday, the funerals of two protesters turned into a mass rally. In one video, a protester can be heard saying the Revolutionary Guards are firing machine guns at people’s heads.

The footage, which has been verified by BBC Persian, also appears to show people covered in blood lying on a street and someone shouting that a girl has been shot in the head. Automatic gunfire can also be heard.

A mother who was worried about the fate of her young daughter and son protesting in the town posted an emotional appeal to people elsewhere in Iran, saying: “Please help us, they are killing everyone, killing our youth. Why aren’t people in Tehran coming out to the streets? Please help Kurdistan, help our youth.”

The BBC also obtained on Monday a video showing a convoy of Revolutionary Guards with machine guns mounted on pick-up trucks heading to Mahabad, which has also witnessed intense confrontations recently.

The city’s member of parliament, Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, said at least 11 people had been killed there in the past week.

In Piranshahr, another small town, tens of thousands participated in the funeral of Karvan Ghadershokri, a 16-year-old-boy who was killed at a protest. A crowd earlier gathered in front of his parents’ house to prevent security forces from stealing his body.

Every such funeral has turned into a mass rally against the clerical establishment. In response, security forces have taken away a number of protesters’ bodies and buried them in secret, without the presence of their families and friends.

The protests that have spread across Iran like wildfire over the past two months started in Kurdish region.

They were sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa “Zhina” Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who fell into a coma after being arrested by morality police in the capital Tehran for allegedly wearing “improper” hijab.

The Kurdish region has remained an epicenter of the unrest and has been a focus of the deadly crackdown by security forces.

Iranian authorities have accused armed Kurdish opposition groups based in neighboring Iraq of instigating “riots” in the region, without providing any evidence.

The videos posted on social media have shown unarmed protesters confronting security personnel.

Hengaw, which is based in Norway, said last week that more than 80 protesters had been killed and 4,000 others detained in Kurdish-populated areas alone.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), which is based outside Iran, has put the nationwide toll at 419 and also reported the deaths of 54 security personnel. — BBC

November 21, 2022
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