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Security Forces in Violent Crackdown as Protests Grow Across Kurdistan

October 13, 2022
Akhtar Safi
4 min read
There were fierce clashes in several neighborhoods of Saqqez including Karimabad, Silo, Baharestan Bala and other main areas and squares.
There were fierce clashes in several neighborhoods of Saqqez including Karimabad, Silo, Baharestan Bala and other main areas and squares.

Security forces have met a wave of strikes and protests across Iranian Kurdistan with a swift and lethal display of force which has left at least seven dead, according to human rights groups.

Hengaw, which reports on Iran's Kurdish regions, said protesters in 10 cities had confronted "security forces' intense violence" on Wednesday night.

Direct fire had killed two protesters in the city of Kermanshah, Hengaw said. It posted a picture of the body of an 18-year-old man it said was one of the dead. Footage from the city late Wednesday showed a fire burning in the road. "Kermanshah is hell, it's war, it's war," a voice can be heard saying.

Three members of the security forces were also killed in Kermanshah and around 40 more injured, according to Hengaw.

Heavily armed Revolutionary Guards patrolled the streets of Kurdish towns Thursday afternoon.

Iran's Kurds are part of an ethnic minority spread between several regional states whose autonomy aspirations have also led to conflicts with authorities in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. 

Traders shuttered shops Wednesday and people took to the streets in several towns and cities across the province, including Sanandaj, Saqqez, Bukan, and Marivan. Traders defied pressure from the armed forces and kept their shops shuttered throughout Wednesday.

Heavily armed columns of military vehicles were seen patrolling the streets. However, defiant protesters continued to gather and took control of many neighborhoods following violent clashes with security forces.

There were fierce clashes in several neighborhoods of Saqqez including Karimabad, Silo, Baharestan Bala and other main areas and squares.

"Smoke covered the whole city. In different neighbourhoods, people blocked the main roads, and the sound of heavy gunfire was unstoppable. There is the constant sound of explosions," IranWire’s correspondent reported.

"The intensity of protests in Saqqez has not only not decreased but is intensifying every day. If earlier there were protests in the main squares of the city, now it has spread to all neighborhoods. People are being chased by the security forces everywhere," our reporter noted.

Meanwhile Sanandaj has been the scene of fierce clashes between security forces and protesters over the past few days. It is the provincial capital of Kurdistan province and hometown of Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody last month sparked the nationwide protests.

"Previously, special forces had only had a presence in the squares and main roads, but today the IRGC forces were present in all neighborhoods in greater numbers. It can be said that there is an armed man every five metres,” our reporter told IranWire.

“What is happening in Kurdistan cannot be compared to anywhere else. Since the burial of Mehsa Amini in Saqqez, people in the provincial capital of Sanandaj have been chanting 'Saqqez is not alone, Sanandaj supports you."

Reports indicate that police stormed the houses of people who had been involved in street protests over recent days. Police broke windows and caused terror in a residential neighbourhood. They have also arrested young men from at least five households. 

The number of casualties is not known. Hospital employees refuse to provide numbers and names of the injured. "Cell phones may be under surveillance," a medic in the city told IranWire.  Many who were injured during the violent protests chose not to go to hospital, fearing arrest.

Gathering information about the demonstrations remains difficult amid severe internet restrictions in every town in Kurdistan province. The flow of information is made worse by the arrest of at least 40 journalists in the country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Council of Oil Contract Workers announced that more than 4,000 workers were striking, cutting oil production on the Persian Gulf coast. The second phase of Abadan refinery and several companies were also hit by the action. Workers of Asaluyeh petrochemical sites in southern Bushehr city refused to return to work.  

Videos shared on social media from the capital, Tehran, and elsewhere, show university and high school students demonstrating and chanting, with some women and girls marching through the streets without headscarves.

The demonstrations represent one of the biggest challenges to Iran's theocracy since the 2009 Green Movement protests. 

Numerous videos show riot police violently beating and arresting unarmed civilians. 

This week the death toll in the protests passed 200, including dozens of minors, a Norway-based human rights organization said Wednesday. 

"According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, the number of protesters killed by security forces has risen to at least 201 people," Iran Human Rights said in a statement. "Of those, 23 were under 18 years of age, but not all have been verified through documentary evidence."



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