Lorestan, Bushehr, Isfahan, Tehran, Kurdistan, East Azarbaijan, Alborz and North Khorasan are provinces that have joined the list of protesting provinces across Iran which began 12 days ago, July 15, 2021, in Khuzestan. Yesterday noon, Monday, July 26,, the first day after a week of Tehran and Alborz lockdown (“due to COVID-19”), Tehran residents suddenly gathered and protested on Jomhouri St, without any call or plan.
The protesters in this sudden gathering that its initial core was formed in front of Aladdin Mall were chanting: “Death to the dictator! Reza Shah, God bless your soul! From Tehran to Khuzestan, united, united! Khamenei be ashamed, leave our country alone! Cannon, tank, firecrackers, mullahs must get lost (referring to oppression of protesters with war weapons)! Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, I will die for Iran! Reza Shah, we’re sorry!”
Contrary to the BBC Persian’s, IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency and other state media’s claim, witnesses at the protests told IranTrue, the initial core of the yesterday demonstration in Tehran was not inside the mall and in objection to power outage at this commercial building, but it formed outside the building with anti-regime slogans. The Human Rights Activists News Agency, HRANA, also describes the events by quoting a source with the knowledge of the protests in its today’s report: “First, people gathered on Jomhouri St in Tehran with anti-regime slogans. Then, in Aladdin Mall, after the blackout, some began to chant.”
Of course, BBC Persian by publishing contradictory reports in the course of the recent days’ protests has proven it is trying to reduce the anti-regime protests and political demand of people with the goal of overthrowing the regime to purely economic and livelihood issues. Or, through publication of contradictory narratives with reality, tries to break the national unity and solidarity created among Iranian protesters and contaminate the protests with separatism. BBC Persian downplays the demonstrations of thousands of Tabriz residents to the gathering of “a few hundred people”. Iranian social media users have also shown a very intense reaction to this, yes, BBC Persian propaganda. On social media, Iranian activists speak of a struggle on two fronts, the nature of their “Janus-like” activism, which simultaneously faces a totalitarian, brutal and criminal system, and on the other hand with media, kidnappers and terrorist arms of the regime which it has “exported” outside the borders of Iran.
What “did NOT happen” in Tabriz
The discourse of separatism is not supported only by BBC Persian and regime media. Analysis of at least two articles, in two media, with a very similar headline and with a more similar narrative, shows that the attempt to deviate and giving direction to people’s protests is accompanied by the intention of “confiscation of protests” by factions and groups that are basically without any base among people.
Following the release of these ill-motivated narratives, which are likely to have found their way into these media from a common source, IranTrue research team followed up and spoke with local witnesses present at the scene of Saturday, July 24, protests in Tabriz. One of the eyewitnesses in response to our question, whether the people of Tabriz really, as some media allege, came to the streets following the call of “Gamaj”, “Bierleek” and eight other separatist groups, said: “These group do not have any base among people. People of Tabriz do not know these at all. Saturday, people told each other, there is to be a gathering today. Participants gathered to support the people of Khuzestan regardless of who or what group called for it. Now, maybe persons or groups wanted to exploit the gathering, but people did what they came for.” We asked him about the Internet and the atmosphere after the protests: “On the day of the demonstration (July 24) and the day after that, the Internet was disrupted. Monday (yesterday) also Internet was disrupted a little. I do not know about today because I did not go out, but there has been intense security presence since July 24 till yesterday and today is probably the same. Motorcyclists (oppressive forces use motorcycles) rotate in the city to intimidate people. Of course, it’s not just the issue of Khuzestan. People are tired of this 42-year-old problem. In all circles of friends and family gatherings in Tabriz, there is talk of the Islamic Republic’s incompetence and people’s misery the (1979 Islamic) revolution.”
“The demonstration was by people in solidarity with Khuzestan. It was around the Market and Darai neighborhoods. People chanted: “Azarbaijan is awake, we support Khuzestan.” Of course, several regime factors tried to shout deviant slogans. This small group separated from people and chanted those slogans. But people ignored them and continued with the abovementioned one. People were really angry. I’m sure you noticed it through the published videos.”
Only a few hours after the yesterday’s sudden and lightning protests in Jomhouri St in Tehran, around 9 PM, people of Karaj in Fardis neighborhood, in support of their Khuzestan compatriots and in protest of the suppression and killing of people and calling them “rioters” took it to streets, and chanted: “From Karaj to Khuzestan, united, united! An Iranian dies but does not tolerate indignity! Do not be afraid, we’re all together! ” Since yesterday, July 26, was the anniversary of MEK’s historic betrayal during the operation that this terrorist group calls “Forough-e-Javidan” and the religious brothers of the organization in the regime calls it “Mersad”, the cyber activists of the organization spread old clips and images and once again, became colleague and assistant of the regime’s cyber army and propaganda machine, specifically Fars News Agency.
Almost simultaneously with sharing of an old clip on the group’s social media accounts, the Fars News team had a film from last night’s calm under the Gohardasht bridge, , which was prepared shortly after the widespread circulation of the old clip, and published it at 2:29 AM on their website.
Overthrowing with a new plan
Internet is still shut down in Khuzestan after 13 days. ARD German TV network, in its yesterday’s report on the expansion of protests in Iran, mentioned that the Tehran regime does not allow reporters of this network to provide an independent report from Khuzestan and due to loss of internet in the province, it is not possible for its Tehran office staff to contact eyewitnesses and Khuzestan residents. On the other hand, yesterday, 55 journalists stationed in Iran issued a statement mentioning “suppression of the voice of Khuzestan residents protests demanding their basic rights and media suffocation, and wrote:”[…] After cutting off the voice of the media, they have disrupted Internet in Khuzestan so that this time ban Khuzestan people’s narratives about province’s black days.”
12 days continuity and expansion of protests are growing not only in the geographical range, but also on time scale. As we saw yesterday during Tehran demonstration at noon and protests in Karaj the same day, the rate of their emergence and spread to the other locations is increasing day by day. Now, after 13 days and by reviewing the process and how the protests form, a “new plan and pattern” appears, which has a different mechanism and dynamics from the street protest movements in the past: lightning, without notice, unpredictable protests with the possibility of occurrence at any time and place: a mall, metro station, sidewalk and anywhere else, with geographical dispersion of the entire Iran, from Junqan (Jooneghan) to the Jomhouri. These protests are not ideologically motivated, they do not belong to any faction or group, less than all in this regard to the Mojahedin (MEK) and the separatists. National unity and solidarity among people upgraded to a degree that people of everywhere, regardless if they are student, worker, unemployed, employed, retired, rural, homeless, Turk, Kurd, Khuzestan Arab, Baluch, Fars … or any other category, they find each other in an Iran headed for destruction under the rule of a criminal sect. People’s demand, their desire is one thing: No to the Islamic Republic. Atena Daemi from the Rasht Lacan Prison defines “oppression, suppression of ethnic groups and discrimination” as “obvious characteristics of this regime”, a regime “that responds to any objection with unprecedented brutality, as we have seen in the past 42 years.” Atena, in her letter, “along with all the bitter and worrying news”, writes about the “magnificent unity of oppressed ethnic groups”: “[…] Let’s try to regain our rights and reject any tyranny and oppression with more and extended unity…”
Translation of this post by Sahar.