The commander of Iran’s anti-riot police who led the crackdown on protesters in Esfahan in November says his forces were soft on people and didn’t use their AK-47 assault rifles.
Brigadier-General Hassan Karami, who is the head of anti-riot police since 2012, said in an interview published on Sunday that his forces only used shotguns that discharged pellets to suppress the protesters.
He noted that the “good thing” about the water protests in Esfahan was that people had applied for the necessary permits for their demonstration from a week earlier so that their gathering was held within the legal frameworks.
During the protests, Esfahan’s governor, Mohammad-Ali Ahmadi, had said that no one had applied for a permit to protest, and the justice department of the province had said the protests were illegal and aimed at "abetting and aiding the enemies of the Islamic Republic.”
After the protests, Iranian human rights groups abroad reportedsecurity forces had arrested 214 protesters injured 30 others mostly with shotgun pellets, some hospitalized with eye injuries.
Demostrations broke out after Esfahan residents came out to protest against mismanagement of water resources by the government that in time of drought has left the city’s main river and surrounding agricultural lands completely dry.