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17
May
2018

Iranian Demonstrators Killed in Violent Clashes in Kazerun



Tweet screenshot

On May 17, 2018, violent clashes broke out in the historical Iranian city of Kazerun, in the Fars Province, between demonstrators (some of whom were armed) and the Iranian security forces (some of whom were in civilian dress) in the city’s main square.1 Iranian security forces fired teargas at the rioters, and the local police station was set on fire. According to the Fars news agency, the riots were organized through the social media application Telegram. Social networks throughout Iran have been flooded with the hashtags #Kazerun_in_blood.2 [Also spelled as Kazeroun and Kazeroon.] At least five citizens have been killed in the clashes, while scores were injured and dozens have been arrested.34

Riots began in Kazerun a month ago, following a law proposed by Hossein Reza Zadeh, the Majlis (Iranian parliament) member for the Fars Province, to divide Kazerun into two (for the distribution of funds, water, and so forth). According to residents, the plan was intended to increase the power of the Majlis member, but it would harm the historical identity of the city. The protest was pushed off due to involvement in the nuclear issue, foreign currency rates, and the economic situation, but it has now burst forth very strongly.

Twitter screenshot

Many users of social media are criticizing state-run media outlets in Iran for preferring to cover events in Gaza instead of reporting the violent clashes in Kazerun. They are rioting to censure Iran for focusing on investment and involvement abroad instead of on what is going on inside the country. Against the backdrop of the clashes in Kazerun, social media users have called upon the government to stop their interference and large investment in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria and to concentrate on Iranian domestic affairs instead.56

Several social media users (including opposition activists from outside Iran) wrote, “Death to clerical rule in Iran!” and circulated graphic pictures and videos7 of injured people during the rioting.8 One of the main slogans in the online campaign is “(The government) is supporting Gaza and committing crimes in Kazerun.” Additional slogans used by social media protesters include, “All the time, they said America was the enemy. [But] the enemy [the Islamic regime] is right here.”

Travelers at the Chitgar metro station in Tehran called out, “Death to the dictator [Khamenei]!” when passengers were removed from a carriage for no apparent reason.9

At the same time, the current communications minister is being criticized for the government’s continued attempts to harm companies providing VPN services, claiming “damage to security and usage for the purposes of Ransomware.” Iranian public demand for these companies’ services has increased as it tries to circumvent the Iranian regime’s continual blockage of leading social media networks, such as Telegram. Iranian demonstrators use social media networks to organize demonstrations against the regime and warn protesters of the presence of security forces in certain areas.

Iran blocked the network at the end of April, claiming it was used for organizing demonstrations against the government.

Prominent Tweets:

Be afraid of the nation’s rage

  • Israel attacked so many [Revolutionary Guard] targets in Syria, but the IRGC didn’t dare to retaliate because all the forces of the Islamic Republic are busy killing the Iranian people.
  • [In sarcasm] Our main problem is Don’t let, God forbid, the news about Kazerun distract you. Well done to all those who are covering up [the Iranian regime’s crimes].
  • [Appeal to the government] Times have changed since you lamented Karbala [a city in Iraq that is holy to Shiites] and Zaynab [the Zaynab mosque in Syria, a site holy to Shiites in Syria, where dozens of Iranians, Hizbullah activists, and Shiite volunteers have fallen defending it], and you highlight the pain [of the citizens of Iran and Syria instead of the Iranians] in order to make us [Iranian citizens] forget our own pain.
  • The days have gone when you could highlight the killing of Hamas and Hizbullah hooligans so that we [the Iranians] wouldn’t mourn our own Today, we are mourning and crying over our own pain. Be afraid of the nation’s rage!
  • The reformers in Iran are still mourning Hamas casualties when every day for us in the Islamic Republic is a day of catastrophe (Nakba day).10

The Israelis are destroying you in Syria, and you are taking revenge on the Iranians

  • Master of the Islamic Republic [Khamenei]! You have lost the elections in Iraq, the Israelis are destroying you in Syria, and you are losing in Yemen and Afghanistan… But you are taking revenge on the Iranian people for your failures.
  • You are killing the children of your homeland in order to continue to rule, but you are helping the nations of Syria, Iraq, and Palestine because they are oppressed peoples. You are evil.11

The people are starving for bread, and you are meddling with Syria and Iraq

  • The people are starving for bread. The leaders of the government are deliberately meddling with Syria and Iraq, while claiming that Iran’s foreign policy is pure. Really, we know with whom we are dealing. Have you heard of the residents of Kazerun? Did you hear about the “suicides” in jails?12

You are asleep and not dealing with Kazeroun

Where are you, Mr. Tajzadeh [Mostafa Tajzadeh is a reformer who served in the government of former President Mohammad Khatami. Despite being in jail for at least five years recently, over the past few days Tajzadeh has supported Palestinian social networks in Gaza and called upon Iranians to understand what’s going on over there….] If something happened in Palestine, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, or Iraq, you would probably work night and day, but you are sleeping when it comes to anything that’s happening in Kazeroun! Shame! You and this Islam are only thirsty for blood.13

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Notes

About Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and at Alcyon Risk Advisors.
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