Hamshahri newspaper, which is owned by Tehran Municipality, published a report yesterday stating that at least 300 have been arrested during the recent protests in the city of Susangerd alone.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the report acknowledges that at least 12,000 people were present at a protest rally in Susangerd–a noteworthy distinction amid denials of unrest from many official sources.
According to the report, the day after the first day of the protests, July 15, Khuzestan Governor Qassem Soleimani Dashtaki denied everything about the protest, saying, “Some seek to provoke the people and publish fake images of the protests in cyberspace.” He claimed, “There were no protests in the cities of Khorramshahr and Susangerd.”
Subsequent events showed that the governor’s words were wrong. The Hamshahri newspaper also reported that the protests were peaceful until the fourth day in Susangerd and surrounding cities but escalated into violence with the arrival of troops and special forces.
Until that day, no provincial or government officials were willing to speak to the people. Finally, on the fourth day, with the arrival of the non-native special police unit in the Susangerd area, the atmosphere changed. The police were aimed at stopping protests by any means necessary. Citizens wondered why the special unit had been summoned to the city, given the peaceful nature of their protests.
According to the Hamshahri report, 2018 statistics showed that Khuzestan was the highest ranked province in number of protests, with about 300 union and non-union gatherings and sit-ins in that year alone. Given the high capabilities and abundance of resources within the province, it should be one of the wealthiest regions, but decades of mismanagement and exploitation have left Khuzestan with abysmal rates of unemployment and poverty. Regarding the water issue, citizens have been protesting, in various ways, for more than 20 years, but nothing has been done.