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Iran: Protests continue in Sistan and Baluchestan despite severe repressive measures, internet blackout

Protests in Sistan and Baluchestan (February 2021)
Protests in Sistan and Baluchestan (February 2021)

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, February 26, 2021—Protests that began over the killing of fuel porters in Sistan and Baluchestan province continued on Thursday and Friday. Early Friday morning, the outraged people of Suran town set a kiosk of security forces ablaze in protest to the killing of protesters and fuel porters. The regime has increased its security presence in the city and has been suppressing demonstrations. On Thursday, security forces had closed down an elementary school and turned it into a military base in Suran.

In the Dashtyari county, the people blocked transit roads to prevent the commute of repressive security forces. In Zahedan city, the people also blocked several roads used by security forces to send backups to crack down on protesters. Despite the martial law and the heavy presence of security forces, the people of this city continued their protests and blocked one of the entrances to the city. On Thursday, there were demonstrations in several parts of the city.

According to reports from the locals, dozens of protesters have been arrested by security forces and gunfire can be heard across the city. The regime has cut off internet access in Zahedan and other parts of the province.

The protests have spilled over to neighboring provinces. In Kerman province, security forces attacked and opened fire on demonstrators in the people of Nehzat Abad Kotaki town. A number of women and children were injured by the security forces.

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), hailed the courageous Baluch protesters. “The uprising of our Baluchi compatriots belongs to all the people of Iran,” Madam Rajavi tweeted and called on all youths to support the people of Sistan and Baluchestan.

 

 

Amnesty International voiced concern over the use of violence by the regime’s security forces against fuel porters. “Alarming footage and reports have emerged from inside Iran indicating that Iranian security forces shot and killed a number of fuel porters in Sistan and Baluchistan province on 22 February,” Amnesty tweeted.

 

 

The protests in Sistan and Baluchestan province began on Monday, after the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) opened fire and killed fuel porters in Saravan county, near the Iran-Pakistan border. IRGC forces in the Saravan border areaopened fire on a group of Baluch fuel porters, killing and injuring several people. Images and videos posted on social media showed dense presence of IRGC forces along with heavy artillery and tanks. The IRGC had dug deep ditches at border crossings to prevent the commute of fuel porters.

The porters held a protest rally and demanded the border crossing to be reopened. The IRGC forces responded by opening fire on them.

For many of the impoverished people of Sistan and Baluchestan, transferring small amounts of fuel across the border and selling it to customers has become the only means of earning their keep and supporting their families. The reason they live this way is more than four decades of regime corruption and discrimination against the Baluch minority. The regime’s security forces attack and kill them regularly under the pretext of fighting smuggling. Meanwhile, the regime’s own security forces control a huge fuel-smuggling network that dwarfs the activities of the fuel porters of Sistan and Baluchestan.

On Tuesday, a regime official claimed that the Saravan incident was triggered by clashes that were initiated on the Pakistani side of the border and Pakistani border guards opened fire on the Baluch fuel porters first. The claim was rejected by Pakistani officials on Thursday.

Since the protests began, there has been an outpouring of support for the Baluch people who have been bravely standing up against the regime’s repression.

The Iranian Resistance Units, the network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) installed posters and handwritten slogans in various cities supporting the Saravan protesters.  

The Resistance Units organized vast activities in Tehran, Tabriz, Kermanshah, Karaj, Qazvin, Kazerun, Sanandaj, Borojen, in support of people of Saravan. They took to graffiti with the slogans “Saravan is not alone,” “Hail to the brave people of Saravan,” “The mullahs’ will pay for their bloodshed of the brave people of Saravan,” and “Down with the mullahs’ regime, we support Saravan.” 

In Tehran they installed two huge posters echoing the message of Iranian Opposition President Maryam Rajavi who “urged the brave and freedom-loving youths of Iran to rise up and support the uprising of our compatriots in Saravan and Zahedan.” 

In Borujen a city in the southwestern Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province a citizen said in a video message “I salute the brave people of Saravan who have risen against the criminal and bloodthirsty mullahs’ regime. This is the only way to take back our rights. I salute all the martyrs fallen for freedom, in particular those who lost their lives in Saravan. I call on youths to help people of Saravan. I pray for the injured. We must rise up at any place anywhere.”