Iranian regime kills protestors in central city of Isfahan

Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, has been the site of protests over water shortages in recent weeks, with hundreds of protestors on the streets.

 Farmers work in a field as smoke from an oil refinery rises in the background, in Tehran, Iran June 3, 2021. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Farmers work in a field as smoke from an oil refinery rises in the background, in Tehran, Iran June 3, 2021.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Iranian security forces targeted farmers with gunfire and tear gas in the central city of Isfahan on Thursday and Friday in response to ongoing peaceful protests in the region.

The protest was against water shortages and at times the legitimacy of the theocratic state. Photographs on Twitter appear to show the murders of at least two Iranians.

“Horrific images of my compatriots in the Iranian city of Isfahan being slaughtered by ruthless Ayatollah regime’s thugs & security apparatus for peacefully protesting against the regime! This older woman was shot in cold blood on the streets. Are you seeing this @StateDept?” tweeted Karmel Melamed, an Iranian-American journalist.

“It wasn’t hooligans or thugs who shot at me. It was the security forces,” said a bloodied farmer in video footage posted by the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad.

She tweeted, “For years the Islamic Republic blamed hooligans for attacks on people. He is one of the many eyewitnesses who say the security forces are behind the attacks. We need international media.”

Alinejad added in a second tweet, “This is what happening in Iran right now. People took to the streets in Isfahan for a peaceful protest but they are being violently suppressed by the regime. West is busy getting a nuclear deal. You must warn the Islamic Republic that there will be consequences for such brutality.”

Iranian dissidents ignited Twitter with the hashtag #BloodFriday in Isfahan. The regime pulled the plug on internet connections in Isfahan, according to Iranian human rights experts.

Alinejad showed dramatic pictures of severely injured protesters and a security official firing shots at the farmers.

The prominent Iranian blogger and free speech activist Hossein Ronaghi tweeted, “Protesters in Isfahan have been targeted in the face by shrapnel shots. IR agents suppress people of Isfahan using ammunition.”

Security forces set the protesting farmers’ tents ablaze after demonstrations that started in Isfahan on November 8. The Jerusalem Post reported last week about thousands of people protesting in Isfahan, showing video footage of demonstrators booing when the speaker wishes health for Ali Khamenei. Footage also showed protesters chanting slogans against the clerics who rule Iran.

 An Iranian protester holds the picture of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as she attends an anti US demonstration, marking the 40th anniversary of the US embassy takeover, near the old US embassy in Tehran, Iran, November 4, 2019.  (credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS) An Iranian protester holds the picture of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as she attends an anti US demonstration, marking the 40th anniversary of the US embassy takeover, near the old US embassy in Tehran, Iran, November 4, 2019. (credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, has been the site of protests over water shortages. Protests have been held in the dried-up riverbed of the Zayandeh Rud, the largest river in the region. The regime-controlled news agency Fars said demonstrators threw rocks and set fire to a police motorcycle and an ambulance.

“They are in groups of 40-50 on streets around Khaju Bridge and are estimated at around 300,” Fars said.

Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Isfahan, according to Iranian news agencies and social media posts, after officers fired tear gas at demonstrators backing farmers demanding water for crops.

Overnight, farmers holding a two-week-long peaceful sit-in to protest water shortages in the drought-stricken region were dispersed by unidentified men who set fire to their tents. Social media posts said they were security forces while state media said they were “thugs.” State media earlier said farmers had agreed to leave after reaching a deal with authorities.

The farmers in Isfahan Province have for years protested the diversion of water from the Zayandeh Rud to supply other areas, leaving their farms dry and threatening their livelihoods. A pipeline carrying water to Yazd Province has been repeatedly damaged, according to Iranian media.

The US organization Iranian Americans for Liberty urged the Biden administration and Congress to show solidarity with the farmers.

“We call on President Joe Biden, Secretary Antony Blinken, and all members of Congress to stand with the Iranian people. Diplomacy with the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism is never going to produce a favorable result that benefits the American people or the Iranian people. Diplomacy with the Islamic Republic was destined to fail from day one.”

In July, street protests broke out over water shortages in Iran’s oil-producing southwest, with the United Nations’ human rights chief criticizing the fatal shooting of protesters. Tehran rejected the criticism. Iran has blamed its worst drought in 50 years for the water shortages, while critics also point to mismanagement.

Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled to Germany to escape persecution, told the Post that "The protesters in Isfahan gathered peacefully and asked for their rights. The right of using Zayandeh Rud has been given to them during Reza Shah's time and this regime deprived them of their legal rights. Water scarcity is a very important problem in Iran but with this tyrannical and authoritarian regime in power, we can never solve the problem."

She said " All these problems only can be solved after the downfall of the Islamic Republic because this regime only supports its proxies to destabilize the Middle East and never thinks of the true owner of the land that they occupied. The protesters only demanded their rights but the regime answered them with bullets. Iranians have to comprehend that with this regime our days will be worsened day by day. Today people in Isfahan blamed Ali Khamenei directly and chanted 'an army (of the people) has appeared to fight the Leader (Ali Khamenei).'
 Vojoudi added that "Iranians from other cities have announced that they will protest to support the people of Isfahan. Now we Iranians know exactly that the enemy of our nation has occupied our country since 1979 and we must liberate our country. This is a sure thing that will happen very soon. If the free world wants to stand on the right side of history, they should support the Iranian people who have been fighting for their freedom for the last 43 years. The Iranians need free internet because the regime has already shut down the internet in Isfahan. They want to kill the protesters like in November 2019 and that must be stopped. Soon Khuzestan, Yazd, and other cities will also come to the streets and they will face the same danger."