Protests continue in Iran, US expresses support for protestors

One video showed protesters tearing down a banner featuring Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Economic protests continued in Iran on Sunday night, as Iranian security forces cracked down violently on protesters and the Biden administration expressed support for the demonstrations for the first time since they began.

Video shared on social media reportedly from Shahrekord, a city of about 150,000 people 512 km. southwest of Tehran, showed Iranian security forces violently cracking down on protesters, beating them and firing at them. Another video from the city showed demonstrators tearing down a banner featuring Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Protesters shouted chants against Iranian officials including "Death to Khamenei," and "Death to [Iranian President Ebrahim] Raisi" according to Radio Farda.

Demonstrations were also reported in Surshjan, a small city in Shahrekord County, on Sunday night. The protests broke out in recent weeks after the prices of a number of basic products in Iran were raised.

2019 Iranian fuel protests.  (credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY)2019 Iranian fuel protests. (credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY)

Demonstrations against the worsening economic situation in Iran have broken out in recent days in southwestern Iran, with protests reported in Khuzestan, Hafshejan, Farsan, Andimeshk and Dezful, among other locations. Protesters chanted slogans against the Iranian regime and burned banners and billboards featuring Khamenei. Isolated protests have also been reported in the Tehran area.

In some locations, protesters have reportedly attacked and vandalized bases belonging to Iran's Basij paramilitary force, which has been used in the past to crack down on protests.

At least two protesters have reportedly been shot and killed by Iranian forces during the demonstrations, with the Independent Persian reporting that four protesters have been killed.

Internet connection in areas where protests are taking place has been disrupted multiple times in recent days, a tactic used by Iranian authorities in the past to prevent the spread of footage and news from the protests. NetBlocks, an organization that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance, reported on Saturday that internet provider MobinNet experienced a disruption of about 2.5 hours. MobinNet tweeted on Sunday that the disruption was caused by a cyberattack of foreign origin.

Mehdi Hajati, a former Iranian politician who was arrested in the past for speaking out against the arrests of Bahai citizens, expressed support for the protests in Shahrekord on Twitter, writing that "Shahrekord is taking our breath away from the intensity of its anger."

US State Department spokesman Ned Price responded to the protests on Sunday, tweeting "Brave Iranian protestors are standing up for their rights. The Iranian people have a right to hold their government accountable. We support their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression online and offline - without fear of violence and reprisal."