Khuzestan protests continue for seventh day despite brutal repression, internet blackout

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, July 22, 2021—Wednesday marked the seventh night of ongoing protests in Iran’s Khuzestan province. The protests began were triggered by extreme water shortages caused by the regime’s destructive policies in the region, and they reflect the multitude of problems the people of Khuzestan and other provinces face. Over the past week, the demonstrations have turned into political protests, with the people calling for the overthrow of a regime that is responsible for the misery of the majority of Iran’s population. The regime’s response to the people’s most basic demands has been to dispatch security forces from Khuzestan and other provinces and to quell the protests.

On Wednesday, protests took place in Ahvaz, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Izeh, Susangerd, Behbehan, Mahshahr, Darkhovin, Dezful, Shushtar, Hamidieh, Ramhormoz, Veis, Kut Abdollah, and other cities. After seven days of intense protests and the regime’s brutal response, the protesters are chanting “Down with the dictator,” “The people want regime change,” and “Down with Khamenei,” calling for the ouster of Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader.

In many locations, security forces attacked protesters and arrested several people. There are numerous videos showing the regime’s security forces using teargas, pepper spray, and live ammunition against protesters. But the people, who are protesting for their most vital needs, resisted the regime’s security forces and continued their demonstrations.

In Izeh, security forces opened fire on the people, reports indicate several protesters in the city were killed or wounded. In Susangerd and Ramshir, people continued their protest despite the brutal repression in the past few days.

The people of Shadegan held a large rally on the seventh night of the protests. In Masjed Soleyman, people also demonstrated despite the heavy presence of security forces. People were chanting, “Bakhtiaris are united with the Arabs.”

In Ahvaz, Khuzestan’s capital, protests took place in several districts, including Sheyban, Zargan, Khowr-e Musa, and Malashie. Protesters blocked the main road connecting Shiraz to Ahvaz.

In Behbahan, protesters blocked Zeydun Bridge and the Behbahan-Gachsaran highway. In Dezful, protests began in the early hours of Wednesday morning, closing the street and lighting fires. They also blocked the street in Moddares district and another street in Alef region.

The protests in Khuzestan have rallied support from communities in other parts of Iran. On Wednesday, people in Karaj and Isfahan held protest rallies in support of the people of Khuzestan.

Numerous reports indicate the regime has cut off internet and mobile network access in many areas. NetBlocks, an organization that tracks internet access across the world, reported “a significant regional disruption to mobile internet service in Iran beginning Thursday 15 July 2021, ongoing almost a week later as of Wednesday 21 July 2021.”

“This class of internet disruption affects connectivity at the cellular network layer and cannot generally be worked around with the use of circumvention software or VPNs. Hence, it can severely limit access to information without the implementation of a total or national network blackout,” NetBlocks reported.

According to reports obtained by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), Mostafa Naimavi died of gunshot wounds in Shadegan on Friday after security forces opened fire on protesters in Shadegan. Naimavi was shot in the chest.

Ghassem Khaziri, 17, shot security forces in Kut Abdollah by security forces on Friday night, died of his wounds in the hospital on Saturday.

Many more have died in recent days.

Khuzestan is faced with a severe water crisis, mainly due to the regime’s destructive policies. In recent weeks, reports from Khuzestan show the Hur ol-Azim marsh drying up and livestock dying due to lack of water.

At the same time, the province’s inhabitants are facing additional problems due to electricity outages. Last week, the people have held protests over power blackouts.

The unjustified creation of dams on the Karun river in the region is the main reason the people are facing water shortages. Khuzestan is one of several provinces that are faced with water shortages due to government policies. In May, the Arman newspaper published a column about the water shortage crisis and wrote, “This is a struggle that, according to some, is rooted in the inefficiency of government officials in managing water sources and has resulted in the destruction of the lives of many citizens who rely on these water sources to make a living.”

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