At least one person has been killed, six injured and a hundred arrested during a protest in a southern Iranian city, according to official sources. The call against a proposed administrative reorganization in Kazerun (Fars province) reportedly turned violent after police fired on protesters demanding the release of detainees. According to the slogans, the quotation may have served as an excuse to air the malaise with economic reality.
“The situation is under control although there are dispersed incidents,” said the governor of Fars province, Esmaeil Tabadar, in an interview with the ISNA agency. This responsible has insisted that “there was only one death” and asked people to distrust social networks. Some news broadcasted in this way raised the number of dead to three.
Previously, the Fars agency, the first media authorized to echo the riots, said that “a small number” of demonstrators had gathered the day before in Kazerun, 900 kilometers south of Tehran, and “set fire to a police station. That source attributed the call to Telegram, a messaging application recently banned in Iran.
According to a testimony collected by BBC Persa, “several people” were arrested during the afternoon demonstration and this led people to gather at the last minute at the police station to ask for their release. “The police shots raised the tension. The demonstrators entered the barracks and set it on fire,” the witness said.
For some months now, this city of 150,000 inhabitants has been the scene of peaceful protests against an official project to segregate several neighborhoods of the region of the same name to turn them into an independent locality.
The complaints prompted the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to call his representative in Kazerun, the hoyatoleslam Jorsand, for consultations. On his return from Tehran three weeks ago, he implied that the plan had been suspended and that the mobilizations should end.
However, the slogans heard on social network recordings are very similar to those chanted during the wave of anti-government demonstrations that shook the country between December 28 and January 3. Then the motivations were mainly economic and the repression resulted in 21 deaths, according to official figures.
“They support Gaza, but they betray Kazerun” or “Radio, television, shame, shame”, the demonstrators have repeated again. And even “Our enemy is here, those who say it is America lie”, a slogan with a very political message that contradicts the official line and is particularly delicate at a time when the regime is trying to respond to the US exit from the nuclear agreement. The ultras have quickly pointed to an enemy hand; the government, that of its political rivals.
Even Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri has warned of the risk of some sectors exploiting the situation. “Kazerun’s problem must be solved. You can’t allow them to go out on the streets every day and take advantage of it to spread their slogans,” he said. According to him, “the government has not taken any decision on the division. “The situation in the provinces is so critical that no one needs to intervene,” says an Iranian analyst.
So far this morning, schools in Kazerun have been closed, according to the Ministry of Education, due to “dust pollution. And testimonies on social networks claim that riot police have closed access to the city to prevent the arrival of people from neighboring towns.