Provinces

Grief-Stricken Citizens Gather in Abadan for Third Night of Protests

May 27, 2022
OstanWire
2 min read
Crowds gathered in several Iranian cities on Thursday night to express outrage at the official response to the Metropol disaster
Crowds gathered in several Iranian cities on Thursday night to express outrage at the official response to the Metropol disaster

Hundreds of people have thronged the streets of Abadan, Khuzestan to protest for a third night in a row in the wake of the Metropol tower disaster. Videos posted on social media on Friday evening showed large crowds forming while a notably increased number of police and security forces looked on.

On Thursday night thousands in a city racked by collective grief and anger chanted for the government to step down. Citizens in the neighboring city of Khorramshahr, many of them women, also gathered in solidarity with Abadan, as did some residents of Behbahan, Shahin Shahr and Isfahan.

In a video sent to IranWire, women could be heard chanting: "Commander, the city is in ruins!". Security forces could be seen amassing on the sidelines as people called out "Mullahs get lost", "I will kill the one who killed my brother" and "America is a lie, the enemy is here". 

"People are very angry," a resident of Abadan told Iranwire on Thursday night. "We're both in mourning and bewildered by the behavior of our government. Not so much as a tanker of water has been provided for the rescue workers. Everyone brings them food and water in passing. There are no facilities, no manpower, people have been working empty-handed. Corpses are rotting. What are we to do?"

Part of the anger is due to the manner in which state-controlled media outlets have seemingly minimized the scale of the disaster, with tightly-limited coverage regularly failing to mention any deaths. Some do not believe that the building's negligent owner, Hossein Abdolbaghi, actually died in the rubble as TV reports claimed, but rather was allowed to flee Iran. A warrant was out for his arrest at the time a body was reportedly identified on Wednesday.

The building is widely understood to have been constructed in violation of safety regulations, while compromised officials in Abadan Municipality and central government turned a blind eye. An employee was reported to have been apprehended trying to steal CCTV footage in the aftermath of the collapse.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei pointedly failed to acknowledge the Metropol disaster in an hour-long speech on Thursday. After protests erupted that night, he made brief conciliatory reference to it on Friday, in a press statement of less than the length usually afforded to the death of a single cleric. The comments were also not published on his own website as they normally are.

The regime's desultory response to the tragedy has been such a surprise that even Mehr News Agency, a state-controlled outlet owned by the Islamic Propaganda Organization, published a piece criticizing the way it was being covered and stating the government was getting "closer to the abyss" every day by ignoring rampant corruption. The article was quickly removed.

Funerals for some of those whose bodies were pulled from the rubble, including young couple Maryam Ghorbani and Ramin Masoumi, were held in Abadan earlier on Friday.

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Grief-Stricken Citizens Gather in Abadan for Third Night of Protests