During the last two weeks, triggered by food price hikes, nationwide protests erupted in more than 31 cities across 10 provinces. HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has recorded 53 demonstrations so far.
According to HRANA, on Friday, May 6, 2022, following the government’s decision to cut subsidies on essential food items such as dairy products, flour, cooking oil, chicken, and eggs leading to soaring prices, the call for rallying against soaring prices went viral on social media. In the following days, several protests broke out in Khuzestan Province and soon swept through numerous cities across the country.
Prior to these protests, a series of protests and gatherings of teachers, labor workers and the retirees who had lost their pensions due to the government’s risky financial decisions had been sweeping across the country leading to dozens being arrested.
The new rounds of protests sparked initially in Susangerd City and other neighboring cities in Khuzestan Province. In the following days, at least 30 Arab-speaking citizens were arrested by security forces.
Soon after, the protests spread to other cities and provinces. The videos received from citizen journalists indicate that the protestors chanted slogans against inflation as well as the Iranian regime leaders, including President Ebrahim Raeisi and Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
The map below shows the locations where the protests were. As the map shows, the protests took place in the following cities: Izeh, Susangerd, Hamidieh, Ahvaz, Mahshahr, Masjed Soleiman, Shadegan, Jarahi Town Mahshahr, Dorud, Andimeshk, Dezful, Shahrekord, Junaqan, Fashafouyeh, Yasuj, Ardabil, Farsan, Khorramabad, Dehdasht, Borujerd, Suq, Yazd, Golpayegan, Cholicheh, Rasht, Neyshabur, Surshjan, Hafshejan, Babaheydar, Karevan Town and Pordanjan.
In total, 53 protests have been recorded. Moreover, 45 times, the attempts to start a protest were foiled due to the heavy presence of police and security forces in the streets.
The map below shows the locations of 53 protests and the time periods.
During these protests, at least on 22 occasions in 14 cities, the police and security forces used tear gas, warning shots, pellet guns and in some cases heavy weapons against the protestors. In nine cities, tear gas and in 14 cities warning shots were used to scatter the crowds. In eight cities, security forces fired straight toward the crowds. Reportedly, security forces have used pellet guns, Kalashnikov assault rifles and paintball guns to disperse the protestors.
The map below shows the places where crackdowns and unrestrained shootings have been reported.
Since the beginning of the protests on Friday, May 6, the government disrupted the internet in several areas in Ahvaz in an attempt to prevent the protests. In the days that followed, Internet disruption was also reported in at least 10 cities.
In addition to intentional Internet disruption, the press was banned from covering the protests.
According to the reports obtained from local sources, at least 449 individuals were arrested during the protests.
So far, six people have been confirmed dead. These people have been identified as Pishali Ghalebi Hajivand (Dezful), Saadat Hadipour (Hafshejan), Jamshid Mokhtari Junaqani (Junaqan), Omid Soltani (Andimeshk), Hamid Ghasempour (Farsan City), and Behrooz Eslami (Babaheydar). HRANA can only confirm the reports on the death of the first two individuals mentioned above.
From all videos of protests which are circulating on social media, HRANA has verified the authenticity of 30 video reports which compilation you can watch below:
NOVEMBER 15, 2019: A sudden and substantial hike in the cost of fuel sparks unrest across Iran. Individuals across the country pour into the streets in what soon becomes mass protests covering a reported 104 cities across Iran.
As the anniversary of the November protests approaches, HRA has spoken with Iranians calling for concrete action against those responsible for violent crackdowns against protesters including arbitrary and incommunicado detention, illegal use of force, and torture among other serious violations. For nearly two years, perpetrators have, for the most part, enjoyed widespread impunity. Domestically, some have even seemingly been rewarded. Indeed, individuals such as now-President Ebrahim Raisi, a known and serious violator, have risen to top positions of power.
Soheila, a 45-year-old mother whose son was shot in the November 2019 protests, highlights the shortcomings of the judiciary in Iran, telling HRA, “I hope that accountability will mean that next time, my child, instead of taking to the streets, can work through established pathways to hold corrupt people accountable for their actions.”
November 2019 saw the deaths of several hundred Iranians (227 were verified by HRA) in what is arguably a state-sanctioned arbitrary deprivation of life. In addition over 7,100 were arbitrarily detained, some remain detained today. Although the violations noted above have been extensively documented, little has been done to hold perpetrators accountable.
Elika, 25, told HRA, “Without accountability for violations that occurred in November 2019, the cycle of repression and violence will not end. Those that intend to perpetrate future abuse [on us] need to see accountability. Maybe then they will take a moment to think before pulling the trigger.” In a recent post in the Atlantic Council IranSource blog, Skylar Thompson, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator, stated similarly, “Without concrete action to fight the plague of impunity that covers Iran, these violent events will only continue to occur and the Iranian people will continue to suffer.”
Iran has proven unwilling to investigate and prosecute those responsible through domestic judicial frameworks. This unwillingness is paired with the fact that Iran’s judiciary is in no way impartial and is in fact led by the very perpetrators responsible for the noted violations. Unfortunately, violations of fair trial standards have become status quo.
When asked what accountability looks like to him, Hafez, 22, told HRA, “They should handcuff the perpetrators. […]. They should be prosecuted in a public court and imprisoned.” He continued, “Once handcuffed, perpetrators should have to look the victim’s mother in the face to calm her heart.” Nazanin, 32, told HRA that accountability, in her view “is [the Islamic Republic] honestly and openly admitting wrongdoing.”
HRA has identified 54 individual and seven institutional violators connected to the November 2019 protests. It Is noteworthy that a number of those violators have also been complicit in numerous additional acts of repression against protesters including in 1988, 2020 (protests over the shooting down of Ukrainian airliner), 2021 (protests over resource mis-management in Khuzestan), and many instances in between. This repeated action is a direct consequence of the lack of accountability.
The following section lists notable individuals responsible for repeated serious and widespread rights violations. Extensive and credible documentation is readily available. HRA calls on the international community to hear the pleas of Iranians like Hafez, Nazanin, and Elika and utilize available documentation to take concrete action against those responsible.
*For a more in-depth look at the listed violators visit www.spreadingjustice.org or select a name and be directed to a violator profile that includes several data points including an overview of violations, employment history, as well as additional evidentiary documentation.
Mojtaba Raei Special Governor, Najafabad City of Isfahan Province Deputy Governor of Isfahan