Iranian protesters rip down flags in unrest as poet's death blamed on gov.

Reza Najafi, Khuzestan's provinical security and police chief, said that Haidari died from a stroke. Protesters have called the death "suspicious."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, May 14, 2019 (photo credit: KHAMENEI.IR)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, May 14, 2019
(photo credit: KHAMENEI.IR)
Protesters in the southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz tore down Iranian flags and chanted slogans against the Islamic Republic on Sunday after a local poet was arrested and died in the hospital after being released, with some placing the blame for his death on the Iranian government and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The Iranian opposition channel Der reported that protesters blocked central roads in the area and Arab demonstrators chanted slogans against the government and the IRGC, according to Erem news.


"With our blood we will redeem you Ahvaz," chanted the protesters as they were prevented from attending Haidari's funeral on Monday, according to Al Arabiya. Protesters believe that the poet was poisoned by security forces. Demonstrators were confronted with tear gas and eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya that there was a large security presence in the area as the area has seen protests before.
Haidari was arrested in August of last year and was released on bond in September of the same year, according to Radio Farda. Reza Najafi, Khuzestan's provinical security and police chief, said that Haidari died from a stroke. Protesters have called the death "suspicious."
The Iranian IRNA news agency reported that Haidari's father attributed the protests to rumors, reiterating that his son died of a heart attack, adding that one of his brothers is a member of the IRGC.
The poet was known for his criticisms of the Iranian government and has been arrested multiple times, according to Anadolou Agency.
"We do not fear the armies of Iran or its guards and we meet their tanks with our chests," chanted protesters in Ahvaz in a video tweeted by Arab Ahwazi journalist Mohammed Majeed Al-Ahwazi. Other videos posted by the journalist show large groups of protesters filling streets in the area.


Most of the videos of protests show demonstrators jumping in a circle.
Protesters set fire to government buildings and destroyed banners with pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah Khomeini, according to the Iranian dissident People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) organization.
According to IRNA, protests broke out in the Kut Abdollah area south of Ahvaz but security forces were able to return calm to the area.
On Saturday, Iranian Saeed Bowie was arrested by authorities at a soccer game after he led a chant saying "I am Arab, you are Arab, Ahvaz is Arab."


In May of last year, hundreds of people were arrested in Ahvaz amid protests against water and power cuts, poverty and alienation.
In September of last year, 29 people were killed after a military parade in Ahvaz was attacked by an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province.
Ahvaz is the regional capital of the ethnically diverse southwestern Khuzestan province, home to most of Iran's Arabs.
Reuters contributed to this report.