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Special Features

Four Days That Shook Iran

November 20, 2019
Shahed Alavi
15 min read
Rasul Qavimi, killed in protests in Sadra City, Shiraz
Rasul Qavimi, killed in protests in Sadra City, Shiraz
Abdolah Qavimi, killed in protests in Sadra City, Shiraz
Abdolah Qavimi, killed in protests in Sadra City, Shiraz
Sharam Moini, killed in protests in Karaj
Sharam Moini, killed in protests in Karaj
Shahu Validi, killed during protests in Marivan
Shahu Validi, killed during protests in Marivan

"Nearly 20 people have been killed in Sadra City so far. Three of the dead are Qashqai Turks. The identities of one of them has been firmly established: Majid Hashemi, son of the Paydar family. But I have not received the names of the other six. There are also fierce clashes between residents, including the Qashqai Turks, and the security forces in the towns of Katbas, Mianrud and Kashan in Shiraz. It has been two days and the clashes in the town of Kashan continues; all roads to Kashan have been blocked and the streets have been barricaded."

This is what one member of the Qashqai community in Shiraz said about recent protests in the province of Shiraz, especially in areas that are relatively isolated. 

The area has been so cut off that citizen journalists have taken on the role of the traditional media, informing people living there and the outside world about what happens there, often circumventing government bans and reporting on controversial stories and issues. It was these people who reported widely on the January 2018 protests, ensuring news of the region got out to the wider world. 

But now, because the internet continues to be blocked, breaking news in these areas receive even less media coverage than usual. It has become increasingly difficult for news to be disseminated, and news reports tend to arrive in a piecemeal fashion. This has meant a lack of detailed information on the scope of the protests, the intensity of authorities’ crackdown, and the number of deaths and arrests. 

However, people in some cities have been able to send news stories, video footage and photographs via Telegram and mobile phones — sending a few at a time and for a very limited period — to media outside Iran. These stories and footage have then been published and shared, but they are scarce.

The protests in Iran, which were sparked by a sudden tripling of the price of gas on Friday, November 15, have now become widespread, with protesters shouting out slogans that target the whole political system and its leaders. News emerging from the country reveals that the security and judicial authorities have responded harshly and with violence that has ended in the deaths of many, and which is expected to continue to be used against those who have been detained.

Kayhan newspaper, which represents the views of the Supreme Leader, has been clear on what will happen next. "The judicial authorities consider death by hanging as appropriate for the leaders of the recent riots. The crime of rioters is rebellion [in religious terms this refers to rebellion of a group of Muslims against a legitimate Imam] and its legal and religious punishment is death."


"Official” Death Toll

On Monday, November 18, the Interior Ministry released an official statement announcing the death toll for the first three and a half days of protests. According to the unnamed Interior Ministry official, "as of Monday at 9:00am, by compiling the statistics from provincial governments sent to the Ministry of Interior, it has been determined that 200 people have been killed and more than 3,000 injured across the country."

Given the continuing protests in some Iranian cities, it is unclear whether the figures covering the time between Monday afternoon and the time of publishing this article have been added to the report. According to a report by Amnesty International, by the end of Monday, "at least 106 people were killed by security forces in 21 cities." The organization adds that the death toll could be as many as 200.  

Other human rights organizations have issued reports, including the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights and the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, and the news obtained from citizen journalists assesses the death toll and, crucially, provides the names of some of the victims. Some of the names and statistics released have been confirmed by official sources or independently verified by the media, including IranWire, but not all of these figures can be independently verified.

The Iranian authorities have only confirmed the deaths of six protesters –  in the cities of Shahriar, Islamshahr, Sirjan and Malard, one death in each city was reported; two deaths were confirmed in Bumehen. Officials also confirmed the killing of a police officer in Kermanshah, a policeman in Chamran in Mahshahr county, and a member of the Revolutionary Guards and two members of the Basij in Malard and Baharestan.

According to a press release issued by Fars News Agency, which is closely affiliated to the Guards, security forces recorded and dealt with popular protests in at least 100 cities and towns. Various officials in Iran have also published scattered statistics about the protests. For example, Gholamreza Shariati, the governor general of Khuzestan province, said 15 cities in the province have witnessed protests

On November 19, official sources confirmed the arrest of 180 people in Khuzestan. News and video reports were not available from most of the cities, and the media were only able to report on protests in cities and areas from where footage and news had been leaked.


The Birth of the Protests

The protests began on Friday, November 15. On that day, protests in Sirjan were more intense than anywhere else, with at least one protester being killed, who was named as Javad Nazari Fathabadi and thought to be the first victim in the November protests [Persian link]. In addition to Fathabadi, another man was reportedly killed in Sirjan protests but has not yet been identified.

In Behbahan, protesters chanted "gas has become more expensive, the poor have become poorer," and in Omidiyeh, protesters blocked the road to Aghajari for hours. During a protest in Qods in Tehran province (formerly Qaleh Hasan Khan), people overturned a vehicle belonging to riot officers.

Ahvaz also witnessed protests on that first day, November 15. People chanting "Ahvazi, shut off your car" in the city’s Kianpars Square were confronted by anti-riot forces, leading to clashes between them and protesters.

In Mashhad, security forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, who turned off their cars at Vakilabad Boulevard and chanted, "Come on dictator, leave the country."


Intense Clashes on Saturday

On Saturday, November 16, the protests became more intense. Protesters took to the streets across more cities, and the security forces responded with violence – they opened fire in several locations and killed and injured dozens.

In Tehran, protesters on the Hemmat Highway, Tehran Karaj Highway, Babaei Boulevard, Tehranpars, and under Sattarkhan Bridge chanted: "Oil money lost, spent for Palestine," "Death to the dictator," "Canons, tanks are useless; mullahs should get lost." On Imam Ali Highway in eastern Tehran, protesters blocked the road, clashing with security forces.

Tehran, Kermanshah, Javanrud, Marivan, Behbahan, Saqez, Bushehr, Tabriz, Sanandaj, Isfahan, Urmia, Shiraz, Ahvaz, Karaj, Khorramshahr, Abadan, Sarpolzahab, Mahshahr, Rasht, Garmsar, Islamshahr, Shahriar, Gorgan, Yasuj, Najafabad, Shahinshahr, Zahedan, Neyshabur, Chabahar, Bumhen, Gachsaran, Ramhormoz, Bandar Abbas, Babol, Birjand, Shooshtar, Andimeshk, Qom, Dehdasht, Jiroft, Pasargad, Qods Town, Damavand, Bandar-e Rig, Rudehen, Fardis Karaj, Qazvin, Hamedan and Khorramabad all witnessed public protests on Saturday, November 16.

In Shahriar, protesters set fire to the statue of Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, in Imam Khomeini Square. Videos of Shahriar show guards shooting at people and protesters who had fallen to the ground. Official reports confirmed that at least one protester was shot and killed in Shahriar. A member of the parliament also confirmed his death, without naming the vicrim. According to Mehr News Agency, a Basij member from Imam Hussein's battalion was also killed during the Shahriar protests.

Security forces directly targeted and killed protesters elsewhere too. According to eyewitnesses and videos posted on social media, on the same day, a number of protesters were killed by security forces in Behbahan, Marivan, Javanrud, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Malard, Khorramshahr, Abadan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Karaj, and on the road to Saveh. 

During Saturday's protests in Javanrud, at least one person was confirmed dead, but not from being shot. A deaf man known only as Aziz who worked for Javanrud municipality green space, was killed after he was hit by a guard’s rifle butt in the face.


Internet Blackout

As of 5:20pm on Saturday, November, the Iranian government had almost completely cut off access to the internet across the country, according to reports released by internet freedom organizations, including Net Block. Although blocking access to the internet made it very difficult for people to get information about the protests out, it did not completely prevent news, photos, and videos from spreading to the foreign media.

According to leaked news from Iran, and in some cases even published in Iranian government media, including the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting [IRIB], on Sunday, November 17, and Monday, November 18, protests in some Iranian cities, including Javanrud, Kermanshah, Marivan, Shiraz, Isfahan, Bushehr, Qods Town (formerly Qaleh Hasan Khan), Islamshahr, Tehran, Bukan, Qaemshahr, Najafabad, Tabriz, Khorramabad, Karaj, Kermanshah, Gorgan, Andimeshk, Babol, Gachsaran, Sari, Qazvin, Chabahar, Yazd, Neyshabar, Behbahan, Garmsar, Qarchak, Mahshahr, Rasht, Ahvaz, and others continued sporadically.

On Tuesday, November 19, the protests continued sporadically in the town of Jam in Bushehr province, west of Tehran, in the new city of Andisheh in Shahriar, in the town of Andisheh Shushtar, as well as in some areas of Shiraz, and in Tabriz. With the continued shutdown of the internet, it became unclear whether the protests were restricted to these cities or continued in other cities and areas.

On Tuesday, however, Iranian officials tightened restrictions on Iranian communication with the outside world. According to Amir Rashidi, an internet freedom activist at Iran's International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the Islamic Republic's disruption of Skype and Viber messenger communications system began on Tuesday; the use of these two methods of communication with the outside world was severely restricted.

At the time of writing, on the morning of Wednesday, November 20, the overall internet disconnection in Iran had continued according to reports by internet watchdog Net Block, and Iran's internet connection with the outside world had reached four percent. Therefore, while the government media inside Iran and the Iranian officials have been reporting the return of "calm," the internet is still cut off. In addition, several sports events have been canceled.

Iranian authorities have not released statistics on the recent protests. IranWire, based on a review of news by human rights organizations, citizen journalists, official Iranian media news, and videos of recent protests, has compiled an approximate figure of those killed in recent protests, which is very close to the estimates made public by Amnesty International. It should be noted that IranWire figures include the latest statistics regarding the number of protesters killed, as reported on Tuesday, November 19.

According to IranWire figures, from Friday, November 15, 2019 to the evening of Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at least 113 people were killed during the crackdown on popular protests in Iran, of which only 56 have been named. These statistics are presented below separately.


Abadan / Khuzestan

At least two protesters have been killed in Abadan; Khaled Mnayat, though there is some confusion over whether he was killed in Abadam or Khoramshahr, and Ali Baghlani, a resident of the Salich neighborhood in Abadan. Mr. Baghlani had previously been detained in March 2018 for protesting at the portrayal of Iranian Arabs in the state-controlled media.


Islamshahr / Tehran

At least two protesters were confirmed dead in Islamshahr. Mohsen Jafarpanah, a 31-year-old married father of two, was shot and killed on Sunday on ​​Khomeini Street in Islamshahr. The second victim has not been named.



A video shared on social media shows a man killed in Isfahan but IranWire and other news agencies have not been able to determine his name or other details.


Ahvaz / Khuzestan

At least two people were killed during protests in Ahvaz: Hamzeh Sawari, a resident of the Ramadan Shahr neighborhood, and Mohammad Reza Asafi Zargani, a 20-year-old man from the Zargan region of Ahvaz.


Bukan / West Azerbaijan

At least four people were killed in protests in Bukan. Shelir (Fatima) Dadvand, from the Mardabad village, near Bukan, and two others, whose first names were Hiva and Edris. The surnames of the second two men and names of other protesters killed in Bukan have not been released.


Bumehen / Tehran

Two people were killed in protests in Bumehen, according to the state-run Iranian Labor News Agency, but the details of the deceased have not yet been released.


Behbahan / Khuzestan

In protests in Behbahan, at least 10 people were killed, only seven of whom were identified: Mohammad Hossein Ghanaati, Ehsan Abdollah-Nejad, Mehrdad and Mahmud Dashti, the last two of whom were brothers, a fifth person with the surname Tadayon, whose first name was not released, Farzad Tazmipur and Ahmad Heshmdar. The names of three others have not yet been released.



At least one protester was killed in Tehran. Mina Sheikhi, a 50-year-old woman from Saqez, who was visiting Tehran to see her daughter, was targeted and killed in the clashes.


Javanrud / Kermanshah

At least 14 protesters have been killed in Javanrud: Kave Mohammadi, Hamzeh Naqdi, Ebrahim Moradi, Younes Hooshangi, Saman Rahmani, Jabar Tazare, an individual named Aziz, whose family name has not been published and was a deaf employee of Javanrud municipality, and Mobin Abdollahi, a 26-year-old married man from the village of Shabankarah in Ravansar. Six of the victims were buried under tight security and three other bodies have yet to be released to their families. The names of six other people who were killed have also not yet been released.


Khorramshahr / Khuzestan

In Khorramshahr, at least three protesters were killed. Maysam Abdul Wahab Adgipour, a 30-year-old man, and Ali Ghazlawi, a 12-year-old boy, and a third individual named Milad Hamidawi.


Ramhormoz / Khuzestan

Hospital sources in Ramhormoz have confirmed the deaths of six protesters. But only the identity of a 30-old-year man, surnamed Mousavi, has been released. Details of the other five killed in the protests have not yet been released.


Robat Karim / Tehran

At least four people were killed in protests in the city and their bodies are reportedly being kept refrigerated in Fatemeh Zahra Hospital in Robat Karim. Their personal details have not yet been released.


Sirjan / Kerman

An individual named Javad Nazari Fatahabadi was killed in Sirjan on the first day of protests there.


Sanandaj / Kurdistan

In Sanandaj at least one person was killed, but his name has not yet been released.


Shushtar / Khuzestan

In the town of Andisheh Shushtar, a protestor by the name of Seyyed Ahmad Mousavi was killed.


Shiraz / Fars

In Shiraz and several surrounding towns, Katsbas, Mianrud, Kashan, at least six people were killed, one of whom was identified as Mehdi Nikoui from the Lori tribe, another as a person surnamed Doshmanziary from the village of Bimur Kamfiruz; the specifics of others have not yet been released. Given the severity of the clashes in Shiraz and neighboring towns, the final local death toll is likely to be higher.


Sadra City / Fars

Protests in Sadra City were brutally suppressed. Unconfirmed reports mention that at least 20 people were killed. IranWire have been able to confirm the deaths of eight people. Three have been named as Majid Hashemi of the Qashqai Turks in Fars province, Rasul Qavimi and Abdollah Qavimi, two brothers from Qalat village of Shiraz. Details of the other five dead in the city, who are also Qashqai Turks and confirmed to have been killed, have not yet been released.


Shahriar / Tehran

The member of parliament for Shahriar, who is also a member of parliament's presidium, confirmed the death of one of the city residents during the protests.


Karaj / Alborz

In Karaj, at least four protesters were killed, two of whom have been identified so far. Mehdi Papi, a 31-year-old, was shot dead in Fardis Karaj on Sunday night; and Shahram Moini, a 44-year-old married father of two from Manjil, who worked in Karaj, was shot dead by security forces on Saturday. His body was buried in Manjil on Monday. The particulars of the other two deceased have not yet been released.



At least 16 protesters were killed in the Kermanshah protests. Five of them were targeted and killed in Dowlatabad (including two brothers), five in Khomeini Street, and six in Jafarabad, but only three have been identified so far. Nader Biranvand, a 22-year-old man from the Jafarabad neighborhood, Mohammad Mirzaei, a 21-year-old man from the Dowlatabad neighborhood and a person named Mozafar Zahiri. The details of the other 13 dead have not yet been release.


Mahshahr / Khuzestan

At Mahshahr and its two satellite cities, Jarahi (Chamran) and the town of Taleqani (Kureh), at least 14 people were killed in the protests, of whom three have been identified. In Jarahi, Ali Khawaja Albuali, a person named Hatawi, Qasem Bawi, Mohammed Khaledi, Adnan Hilali and an unnamed woman but reportedly the spouse of an individual named Mokhtar Atiqi, were all reported killed. In Taleqani, Abbas Asakere, Yusef Khaledi, Mansur Darris and Mojtaba Ebadi were also killed in clashes. The names of the other four killed protesters were not published.


Marivan / Kurdistan

In Marivan, according to the latest statistics, at least 10 people were killed, with the names of seven people so far identified: Osman Naderi, Mehran Tak, Shahu Validi, Behruz Maleki, Edris Biwari, Arian Faraji, and Danial Ostvari from Hani Garmal village, who was shot in the head on Sunday and died in hospital on Monday.

The names of the three more have not yet been released. The bodies of eight of the deceased were delivered to their families under tight security and were buried in Marivan and two villages of Tangsir in Sanandaj and Kiken Marivan, with only their families attending.

Finally, according to reports that IranWire cannot yet confirm, dozens of people were killed in when security forces opened fire on protesters in several cities that saw protests over the past several days. Among these cities are Qods and Chahardangeh in Tehran province, where a confirmed ten others were killed since protesters erupted on Friday.


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