Several Activists Arrested in Tehran Following a Rally in Support of Protesters in Khuzestan

Several activists were arrested in Tehran following a rally in support of the citizens of Khuzestan amidst the ongoing protests over water shortages in the province.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the arrested activists have been identified as Narges Mohammadi, Arash Sadeghi, Arash Kaykhosravi, Ruhollah Mardani, Jafar Azimzadeh, Rasoul Bodaghi, Pooran Nazemi, Hamid Asefi, and Behzad Homayouni.

The detention of these citizens was violent and accompanied by beatings. Earlier today, in a video, Narges Mohammadi stated, “We wanted to gather in front of the Ministry of Interior to protest the killing of innocent – thirsty people in Khuzestan, but we were treated violently by security forces and some of us were beaten. Now we are marching in a street in Tehran to support the people of Khuzestan.”

During the last six days, people in Khuzestan Province have been protesting the frequent water cuts and mismanagement of water sources in at least 20 cities.

Since the second day of the protests, provincial officials have confirmed that two citizens, 30-year-old Mostafa Naeemawi from Shadegan, and 17-year-old Ghasem Naseri (Khaziri) from the Kut Abdollah area of Ahvaz, were killed during the protests. HRANA has received reports, which have yet to be verified, of a third civilian additionally being shot dead by military forces.

The exact status of the detained activists and their whereabouts are unknown at the time of writing.

Five Day Summary: Recap of Ongoing Protests over Water Crisis in Khuzestan

Today, July 19, the widespread protests in Khuzestan over the mismanagement of officials regarding the ongoing water crisis continued for a fifth consecutive day. Since the start of the protests on Thursday, provincial authorities have confirmed that at least two civilians have been killed by military forces.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, today’s rallies in Khuzestan took place in Hamidiyeh, Ahvaz, Kut Abdullah, Susangard, Ramhormoz, Mahshahr, Khorramshahr, Veys, and Chamranhere. There were no reports of violence or shootings by government forces except a report from Chamran city, which seems to be aerial shooting.

 

 

The weekend’s demonstrations also saw heavy escalation. As shown in videos previously published by HRANA, the Susangard protests were responded to with violence from on-duty military forces this Sunday. In multiple areas police opened fire on unarmed protesters.

The protestors blocked the roads connecting Ahvaz to Khorramshahr and Ahvaz to Shush by lighting fires. There have also reportedly been sporadic internet outages across the province.

Since the second day of the protests, provincial officials have confirmed that two citizens, 30-year-old Mostafa Naeemawi from Shadegan, and 17-year-old Ghasem Naseri (Khaziri) from the Kut Abdollah area of Ahvaz, were killed during the protests. HRANA has received reports, which have yet to be verified, of a third civilian additionally being shot dead by military forces.

Previously, the governor of Khuzestan said,  “The published videos of the protests in the province are fake and no protest has taken place.”

“Some seek to provoke the people and publish fake images of the protests in cyberspace,” the governor  further stated. “For example, nothing has happened in the cities of Khorramshahr and Susangard, but clips related to the past events are published in cyberspace!”

Public rallies to protest the water cuts and lack of access to drinking water began on the night of Thursday, July 15, and have spread to at least 17 cities so far.

During the last four days, people protested in at least 17 cities, including Shavur, Karkheh, Kut Seyed Naeem, Shush, Ahvaz, Abadan, Hamidiyeh, Bostan, Susangard, Bandar Mahshahr, Khorramshahr, Shadegan, Kut Abdollah, Mollasani, Hoveyzeh, and Abou Homeyzeh in Khuzestan Province and Mashhad. In some of the released videos, the sounds of gunfire can be heard, and a recurring theme across the footage is the heavy presence of armed military and security forces.

Local sources published reports, as of yet unverified, that several protesting citizens were injured and many others were detained in the city of Khorramshahr. So far, Abdolreza Soleimani, Darem Soleimani, Mansour Soleimani, Yarullah Soleimani and his son Ali Soleimani, all residents of Khorramshahr, are reportedly detained.

Workers at the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Company supported protests in Khuzestan during their rally and march on Sunday, July 18.

A resident of Ahvaz told HRANA about the situation in the city, “Special forces from other places are quickly (being) deployed to Ahvaz to suppress young protestors. Access to drinking water is one of the most basic civil rights. While Khuzestan was once considered the most water-rich province in the country, the mismanagement has led to the crisis of supply of drinking water in Khuzestan to become a serious challenge for people.”

Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, a representative of Shazand City in Parliament, said that providing water and development is an immediate responsibility of the entire government. Bighash wrote in a tweet:

“The situation in Khuzestan is concerning, I point it out indirectly, be very careful about what happened in Khuzestan; open all the [Karun River’s] water sources to quench Khuzestan’s thirst and put out the fire.”

Abdullah Izad Panah, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Khuzestan, also gave a statement in a recent meeting about crisis management in which he criticized the water transfer projects in the province.

“Water transfer projects should be stopped,” the representative said. “Drought is just one side of the issue. The transfer of water has caused Khuzestan to fall to this condition.”

Earlier, Jalil Mokhtar, the representative of Abadan, considered the problems caused by the transfer of water from Khuzestan province to other provinces, and mismanagement.

“Unfortunately, we have witnessed the water transfer from Khuzestan to other areas based on government approvals,” Mokhtar said. “Khuzestan, which was a fertile plain, is now on a desertification path.”

The Human Rights Defenders Association wrote an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressing concern about the suppression of protesters of the water crisis by security officials and calling for an end to the suppression.

“Khuzestan province, despite having rich oil resources, is among the most deprived provinces in Iran, and its residents are facing a high range unemployment, losing water sources, polluted air, and frequent power outages, so their protests are completely justified, and the response must not be bullets and imprisonment.”

Watch our compilation of video footage taken at various protests throughout the province.

Maziar Seyednejad Still in Detention One Month After Arrest

A month after the arrest of labor activist Maziar Seyednejad, he is still in detention and his fate is unknown.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Seyednejad was arrested on June 7 by security forces at his home in Tehran.  From there, he was as transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, one of the solitary confinement cells of the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center.

A few days after his arrest, during a brief phone call under the supervision of security forces, Seyednejad informed his family that he is unaware of the reasons for his detention. Despite the family’s inquiries, the reasons for the arrest and the charges against the labor activist are unknown at the time of writing.

Recently, Branch 16 of the Court of Appeals in Khuzestan Province upheld Mr. Seyednejad’s 3-year prison sentence.

Teacher Union Activist Arrested in Connection with Online Activity Regarding Presidential Election

On June 19, teacher union activist Massoud Hamidnia was arrested by IRGC intelligence agents at his home in the city of Shush in Khuzestan Province.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, security forces raided his home without a warrant and confiscated several of his personal belongings including his laptop and mobile phone.

The detained activist is suffering from medical problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, and he has been denied access to his medications since the arrest, raising concern among his family.

Hamidnia’s family was told that he had been arrested in connection with his activities on social media and cyberspace regarding the recent presidential election.

As of this writing, no information is available on his whereabouts or the charges against him. Hamidnia has thus far only been allowed to make one short phone call to his family.

 

 

HRANA Recap: This Week’s Protests in Iran

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, a number of protests took place in different parts of the country this week. Below is a quick recap and footage from the demonstrations.

 

Saturday, June 12

On Saturday, June 12, a group of rice farmers in Khuzestan rallied in front of the governor’s office. In Tehran, retired drivers of the Tehran Bus Company gathered in front of the company’s headquarters. Contract workers of the maintenance unit for Tehran Metro Line 5 held a rally in front of Hashtgerd metro station, a group of shareholders of Cryptoland Exchange who lost money to the company rallied in front of the Economic Crimes Court building, and family members of SMA patients gathered in front of the Ministry of Health building.

Rice farmers in Khuzestan:

 

Retired bus drivers in Tehran:

Workers of the maintenance unit for Tehran Metro:

Shareholders of Cryptoland Exchange:

 

Sunday, June 13

On Sunday, June 13, a group of shopkeepers in Gachsaran in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province gathered in front of the governor’s office. A group of veterans who were injured during the Iran-Iraq war rallied in front of the Martyr Foundation building in Tehran, several drivers and workers of the Tehran Bus Company heled a rally in front of the city council building, and Cryptoland exchange shareholders gathered in front of the Economic Crimes court building again.

Shopkeepers in Gachsaran:

Injured Iraq-Iran war Veterans:

 

Bus drivers in Tehran:

Shareholders of Cryptoland Exchange:

 

Monday, June 14

On Monday, Several fishermen in Kharg city of Kharg Island gathered in front of the border checkpoint. A group of workers of Tehran Jonoob company protested in Mahshahr in Khuzestan Province.  Landowners in the new city of Pardis, rice farmers in Khuzestan Province, and fired workers of Khuzestan Pipe Industrial Company also held rallies.

Fishermen in Kharg island:

 

Workers of Tehran Jonoob company in Mahshahr:

 

Landowners in the new city of Pardis:

 

Tuesday, June 15

A group of delivery motorcyclists in Laleh Park in Tehran, and a group of families of Bafgh phosphate mine workers in the conference hall of Ahanshahr town held protest rallies.

Delivery motorcyclist in Laleh Park in Tehran:

Wednesday, June 16

The staff of Telecommunication Company of Khuzestan in the cities of Shushtar, Masjed Soleiman, and Ahvaz gathered in front of their cities’ Telecommunication Offices. Shareholders of the “Mashhad Mall” project rallied in front of the building of Ayandeh Bank in Mashhad. Workers of Tehran Jonoob Company held protest rallies for the third day in a row in Mahshahr.

 

Protest of staff of Telecommunication Company in Khuzestan:

Shareholders of Cryptoland Exchange:

 

Workers’ protest in Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry:

 

Protest of workers in Mashhad Mall project:

 

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Greengrocer Arrested After Stating that Ebrahim Raisi’s Campaign Extorted Money from Daily Markets

On June 14th, a greengrocer was arrested at his workplace in Ahvaz in Khuzestan Province after his comments on the recent actions of Ebrahim Raisi’s presidential campaign.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the grocer was arrested by security forces and transferred to an unknown location.

Recently, a video of the greengrocer was published on social media, in which he says that the election campaign of Ebrahim Raisi extorted money from greengrocers of a daily market under the pretext of helping the campaign.

As of this writing, the charges against him and his whereabouts are unknown.

Labor Activist Maziar Seyednejad Transferred to IRGC Detention Center in Evin Prison

On Monday, June 7, labor activist Maziar Seyednejad was arrested by security forces at his private home in Tehran.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Seyednejad is currently being held in solitary confinement in the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center in Ward 209 of Evin Prison.

Recently, the labor activist’s 3 year sentence was confirmed by the Court of Appeals in the Khuzestan Province.

Seyednejad has not, as of yet, been allowed access to a lawyer.

HRANA Recap: Recent Sentences and Summons in Iran

Khabat Mafakheri sentenced to 4 years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj

 

Khabat Mafakheri, a citizen of Sanandaj in Kurdistan Province, was recently sentenced to 4 years suspended imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists (HRA), quoting Kurdpa, Mafakheri was arrested in early August 2020 and released on bail in mid-December of that year. According to the report, Mafakheri was notified of the verdict in the past few days and was charged with collaborating with one of the opposition parties.

 

 

Four Baha’is sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison

 

Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Baha’i citizens Mona Mehrabi, Elham Karampisheh, Afsaneh Yadegar Ardestani, and Ehsanullah Yadegar Ardestani. The four citizens were previously sentenced by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran to 3 years in prison each.

 

 

 

Court of Appeals upholds 3 year sentence for Maziar Seyednejad

 

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Branch 16 of the Court of Appeals of Khuzestan Province upheld the conviction of a labor activist Maziar Seyednejad. Seyednejad had previously been sentenced to three years in prison on charges related to his membership in an opposition group.

 

 

 

Citizen sentenced to 99 lashes and exile for extramarital affair

 

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Aftab News, the case of a citizen who was sentenced to 99 lashes and two years of exile in an area with a brutal climate for having an extramarital affair has been referred to a court of equal rank in Tehran.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights explicitly prohibits the use of degrading and inhumane punishment such as flogging.

 

Sunni cleric summoned and interrogated by Zabul City intelligence forces

 

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Baloch Activists Campaign, on May 29, Sunni cleric Abdul Samad Ijbari, the director of the Quran Education School in Hassanabad village of Zabul province, was summoned to the Zabul city intelligence office in Sistan and Baluchestan province and was interrogated.

The report states that the Sunni cleric was summoned following the presence of Mohammad Othman Qalandarzahi at the Hassanabad Mosque. The reason for the summons and the accusations against Ijbari are not yet known.

 

 

Demanding Water, Wages, and Benefits: A Recap of This Week’s Protests

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, at least 26 protests took place across the country this week, 6 of them today. The unassociated protests and their participants’ demands varied greatly, but all related, in one way or another, to political and economic institutions’ disregard for citizens’ needs. Here is a quick breakdown.

 

Pensioners Protest in 5 Cities

 

On May 16, retirees protested in at least 5 cities, including Tehran, Karaj, Khorramabad, Mashhad, and Kermanshah.

Pensioners carrying banners chanted slogans and marched in front of their local Social Security offices. They demanded an increase in pensions following the poverty line increase,  implementation of the equalization of salaries law, strict implementation of Article 96 of the Social Security Law, attention to supplementary insurance problems, and payment of end-of-year bonuses.

 

 

Teachers protest in Tehran and Tabriz

 

On May 16, several teachers protested in front of the Parliament Building in Tehran and in front of the Department of Education Building in Tabriz, calling for their demands to be addressed.

 

 

Families of the victims of the 2020 Ukrainian plane crash protest in Tehran

 

On May 16, a group of families of the victims of the 2020 Ukrainian plane crash gathered in front of the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces in Tehran. The families protested the trial, the rejection of their request to study the case, and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s remarks about “curing the accident” in his leaked tape of the interview.

 

 

 

Municipal workers protest in Lowshan

 

According to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), on May 16, workers of the Municipality of Lowshan protested low wages and insurance problems in front of the municipal building for the second day in a row. According to the workers of Lowshan Municipality, on the morning of May 15, the protest broke out after Lowshan’s mayor insulted several service workers in the yard and inside the building.

 

 

 

Kaveh Glass Industrial Group workers protest in front of Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare

 

According to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), on May 16, a group of workers from the Kaveh Glass Industrial Group demanded fair working conditions and retirement benefits in front of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare.

 

Per the report, the workers demanded the right to retire after working 20 continuous years or 25 consecutive years, given the difficulty and high risk of the job.

 

According to news sources, the workers all have retirement status and have been insured in these difficult jobs for more than 20 years.  The workers claim that the employer not only did not help them to retire but also laid them off shortly before the benefits were set to activate. They are currently both jobless and unable to retire.

 

 

Teachers and staff of special-needs education schools protest in Khuzestan province

 

According to the Asr-e-Junub news agency, on May 16, teachers and staff of schools for children with special needs in Khuzestan province protested in front of the General Directorate of Education in Ahvaz. The protestors demanded increased salaries and the resolution of clerical insurance problems.

 

Literacy movement educators protest in front of Parliament Building

 

According to the ISNA news agency, on May 16, a group of educators of the literacy movement protested in front of the Parliament Building and requested Parliament representatives’ support, as their employment status is currently shaky.

 

Residents of Health Boulevard in Saravan protest in Sistan and Baluchestan Province

 

According to the Baloch Activists Campaign, a group of citizens living in Saravan’s Health Boulevard protested in front of the governor’s office and the office of Islamic Consultative Assembly representative Malek Fazeli on May 17.

 

The residents protested lack of electricity and poor infrastructure in the area, after numerous attempts to resolve the issue through the electricity department were unsuccessful.

 

Servants and school caretakers protest in Shiraz

 

According to the Free Union of Iranian Workers, on May 16, servants and caretakers of Shiraz schools demanded an increase in wages and benefits in front of the city’s education building.

 

Private school teachers protest in Ilam

 

According to the Free Union of Iranian Workers, on May 17, teachers and employees of private schools in Ilam protested outside the Department of Education building of the province. According to the report, the protestors have been working for years with very low salaries. They requested a salary raise and benefits increase and called on the elimination of discrimination they have been facing compared to government employees.

Safety Consultants protest outside Ministry of Labor building in Tehran

 

On May 19, a group of safety consultants from all over the country protested in front of the main door of the Ministry of Labor building in Tehran. They demanded an immediate cessation of the implementation of Technical Protection and Safety Services bylaws, and revision of the bylaws and instructions “in the presence of experts and representatives of real advisors”.

 

 

 

Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Water Company workers protest in Gachsaran

 

According to Kebnanews, on May 18, several members of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad Water and Sewerage Company protested not receiving their wages and insurance benefits in front of the Dogonbadan’s Water and Sewerage Office in Gachsaran.  All of the protesting workers have been employed for more than 5 years by this company, and have not been paid for three months.

 

 

Karnameh Sabz’ teachers protest in Tehran

 

According to the Free Union of Iranian Workers, on May 19, teachers of Karnameh Sabz protested the uncertainty of their employment status in front of the Ministry of Education building in Tehran. Karnameh Sabz teachers are educators who took the Ministry of Education’s recruitment exam (Article 28 exam) and have been selected by officials, but no action has been taken by the ministry since the exam. On the previous day, teachers also protested in front of the Parliament building in Tehran.

 

 

Truck drivers protest in Arak  

 

According to the ISNA news agency, on May 19, several truck drivers in Arak protested for the fifth day in a row. They called on their union demands and complained about the failure of officials in the Road Maintenance & Transportation Organization.

Aseminun miners protest in Manujan in Kerman

 

On May 19, workers of the Aseminun mine in the city of Manujan in Kerman province protested not receiving their wages for the third day in a row of the strike. The

protesters demanded payment of their unpaid wages, the ousting of the current mine owner, and the transfer of ownership to the public sector.

Gardeners protest in Robat Karim

According to the Basi news agency, on May 20, several gardeners from Robat Karim protested in front of the governor’s office.  Protestors claimed their right to ownership had been violated by the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad even though they had the proper legal paperwork.

 

 

Agents and sellers of Sufi Cement protest in Tabriz

 

According to the Free Trade Union of Iran, on May 20, several agents and sellers of Sufi Cement gathered in front of the East Azerbaijan Governor’s Office in Tabriz to protest cement shortages.

Shareholders of Samen Coin protest in Tehran

 

According to the Free Trade Union of Iran, on May 20, 2021, a group of shareholders of Samen Coin protested in front of the Central Bank in Tehran.

 

Jovein Cement factory workers protest in Khorasan Razavi

 

According to the Free Trade Union of Iran, on May 20, 2021, workers of the Joven Cement Factory in Khorasan Razavi protested low wages and poor working conditions.

 

Villagers protest amid continued water shortages in the western suburbs of Karun

 

According to the IRIB news agency, on May 21, villagers of the western suburbs of Karun gathered in front of the Arvandan Oil and Gas Company refinery to protest authorities’ unfulfilled promises to address the ongoing water crisis in Karun. Twelve villages in the western suburbs of Karun, each with populations of  over 6,000, have been experiencing water shortages for nearly four years.