MEK Iran: Protests in Sistan and Baluchistan Province Gain Support
Protests against the killing of fuel porters continued on Friday in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, despite a heavy regime security presence in the area. Internet access has been cut off in large portions of the province in an attempt to prevent the international community from seeing the protests and the regime’s response.
Protesters in the city of Suran on Friday set fire to a security force kiosk. Regime officials have dispatched a large number of suppressive forces to Suran to break up demonstrations and take back control of the city after widespread protests broke out on Monday. Security forces on Thursday closed down an elementary school in the city and converted it into a military base.
Protesters in Dashtyari County blocked roads to stop the movement of security forces in the province. Protesters in the city of Zahedan blocked additional roads to prevent security forces from sending more troops to suppress the demonstrations, successfully blocking one of the entrances to the city. Despite a heavy security presence and the imposition of martial law, protests continued late into the week in several parts of the city.
Internet access has been cut off in Zahedan, so video footage is not yet available, but MEK sources in Iran report that dozens of protesters have been arrested in the city, and locals have reported gunfire across the city.
Additional protests have broken out in neighboring Kerman Province, where suppressive forces attacked demonstrators in the town of Nehzat Abad Kotaki. Several women and children were injured after security forces opened fire on the protesters.
Support for the protests has spread throughout Iran. A citizen from the city of Borojen, Chaharmahal, and Bakhtiari Province, sent a video message of support to the protesters this week.
“I salute the brave people of Saravan who have risen against the criminal and bloodthirsty mullahs’ regime. This is the only way to take back our rights. I salute all the martyrs fallen for freedom, in particular those who lost their lives in Saravan. I call on youths to help the people of Saravan. I pray for the injured. We must rise up at any place anywhere,” he said.
The Root of the Protests
Protests broke out on Monday after the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) opened fire on a group of Baluchi fuel porters in Saravan County, Sistan, and Baluchistan Province, killing ten and wounding five more. The porters were protesting the construction of an IRGC-built trench on the Iran-Pakistan border, intended to prevent porters from crossing the border with fuel. The Revolutionary Guards responded to the protest by opening fire on the defenseless porters, setting off days of protests within the impoverished province.
The ethnic minority Baluchis have been systematically oppressed by the Iranian regime for four decades and deprived of opportunities for meaningful work in their province. The regime neglects Sistan and Baluchistan Province, leaving its people to live in poverty. Many Baluchis earn a living transporting small amounts of untaxed fuel over the border into Pakistan. Dozens of porters are killed by regime security forces every year. These same security forces run a large and well-organized fuel-smuggling operation.
Support and Concern
Amnesty International expressed concern about the shooting deaths that led to the protests, tweeting:
Alarming footage and reports have emerged from inside Iran indicating that Iranian security forces shot and killed a number of fuel porters in Sistan and Baluchistan province on 22 February. @amnesty is in the process of investigating the circumstances around this incident.
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) February 24, 2021
“Alarming footage and reports have emerged from inside Iran indicating that Iranian security forces shot and killed a number of fuel porters in Sistan and Baluchistan province on 22 February.”
MEK Resistance Units
MEK Resistance Units showed their support for the protesters by organizing activities in Tehran, Tabriz, Kermanshah, Karaj, Qazvin, Kazerun, Sanandaj, and Borojen. They graffitied walls with the words:
“Saravan is not alone;”
“Hail to the brave people of Saravan;”
“The mullahs’ will pay for their bloodshed of the brave people of Saravan;” and
“Down with the mullahs’ regime, we support Saravan.”
MEK Resistance Units in Tehran placed large posters featuring the words of National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi, who “urged the brave and freedom-loving youths of Iran to rise up and support the uprising of our compatriots in Saravan and Zahedan.”
Tags: Iran human rights, Iran Opposition, Iran Protests, Iran Uprising, IRGC, Maryam Rajavi, MEK, Mujahedin-e Khalq, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), People's Mojahedin organization of Iran, PMOI