Anti-government protests continued in a western province in Iran Wednesday amid a total internet blackout, while city bus drivers remained on strike in Tehran.
The Iranian media have apparently been banned from reporting on the protests that began two weeks ago but social media users say protesters took to the streets again in Farsan in Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province Wednesday evening and were shot at by security forces.
In Dezful, a city of around 250,000 in southwestern Khuzestan Province, security forces patrolled streets on motorbikes and in full riot gear on Wednesday to prevent a new round of protests.
Extensive disruption of access to the Internet has been reported in Dezful as well as other areas of the province where protests first began two weeks ago including in the provincial capital Ahvaz.
On Wednesday hundreds of residents of Jouneghan, a small town of around 15,000, near Farsan in the same province, marched on the streets during the funeral of Jamshid Mokhtari, a young man shot dead by security forces Monday.
A video posted on social media shows a huge crowd of men in one of the streets of the town beating their chests to the tune of an old song.
“Cruelty of the cruel, Oppression of the ruler, The city is overwhelmed with grief, O God, O Universe, O Nature, Bring light to our dark night!"
Hundreds also marchedTuesday in Babaheydar, another small town with a population of around 11,000 in the province, during the funeral of Behrouz Eslami, a father of two. Eslami was reportedly shot in the head by a Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) officer in Farsan on Monday. Security forces held the body for several days before finally allowing the family to bury their son.
On Tuesday security forces clashed with people attending the funeral of Pishali Ghalebi, a citizen killed by security forces during protests on Friday, in a small village near Aligudarz in the western Lorestan Province. Ghalebi was reportedly shot in the head in Dezful while standing in front of the window inside his house and watching the protests.
There are some claims on social media that security forces have so far killed sixteen protesters in Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province which is among Iran’s least-developed and poorest. These reports also claim that shotguns are widely used against protesters.
Social media users also report that security forces have continued arresting protesters as well as political, civil, and labor activists in Dezful and Malekshahi in Lorestan as well as in the capital Tehran where the arrests of activists Keyvan Samimi and Saeed Madani has been reported. The number of detained protesters is not known.
Economic chaos continues in Iran in the wake of a government decision to stop subsidizing food imports. The government says it will compensate for the price increases by paying 90 percent of Iranians a monthly cash subsidy for the time being and will later substitute it with ration cards for cheap staples. The first instalment of the monthly 400,000 rials ($13) subsidy has already been paid into people's bank accounts.
Meanwhile, two more members of bus drivers’ union (Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company) in Tehran were arrested Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Bus drivers have been on strike since Monday.
Tehran’s hardliner mayor, Alireza Zakani, on Wednesday claimed that the strike had ended after those who incited others to go on strike “were dealt with”. So far, more than a dozen drivers have been arrested.