Iran’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi Tuesday claimed that overthrowing the Islamic Republic “is a stupid idea” because the regime is at “apex of its power”.
The minister was visiting the western city of Sanandaj where protesters have been defying hundreds of government troops and gunmen for at least three days. There are no clear figures about casualties in the city but several people have been killed and dozens injured by live fire.
Reports by activists on social media indicated that the wounded have been turned away form hospitals, or they have refused to seek help knowing that doctors are under orders to call security agents when a wounded person is brought in. The government arrests them on the spot before they are treated and taken to prison.
Demonstrators were chanting and bullets flying in Sanandaj as the interior minister was apparently inspecting a water project in the area. The city has a majority Kurdish population and was one of the first spots where protests started in mid-September, following the killing of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s notorious hijab police.
There were also bloody protests in other Kurdish-populated cities and towns such as Baneh and Saqqez, the hometown of Mahsa Amini. These protests were continuing Tuesday night at the time of this writing.
Strikes by oil and petrochemical workers that started Monday continued in some spots on Tuesday, notably at the oldest refinery in the Middle East in Abadan, near the Persian Gulf. There were also strikes in Asalouyeh, a city which is home to many petrochemical and natural gas plants.
A video released by striking workers threatened destruction of plants and equipment if the Revolutionary Guard and its various armed groups do not lay down their weapons and stop killing civilians in the country.
Wednesday can become another milestone in the 26-day old antigovernment protest movement that clearly has assumed features of a revolutionary push to overthrow the clerical regime in Iran. A group of activists known as ‘Tehran Youth’ have called for nationwide protests on Wednesday. This was the group that had called for the large protests on Saturday, October 8, which brought out crowds in various parts of Tehran and several other cities, showing the power of the “revolutionaries”.
The call for another round of nationwide protests starting at noon October 12 came as a response to government violence in Sanandaj, amid a mood of national unity against the Islamic Republic. Protesters proudly highlight slogans of mutual support, especially for outlying regions such as Kurdish areas close to Iraq and the Baluch city of Zahedan which is located at the opposite end of the vast country, near Pakistan.
The Baluch region is a neglected and poor part of Iran, where security forces more likely felt they could kill more indiscriminately on September 30 when around 60 protesters were gunned down in Zahedan. The death toll has now risen to around 90.
No one knows exactly how many people have been killed nationwide, but some human rights groups put the figure at close to 200. Security forces have also arrested between four to five thousand protesters, including many university students and even school children.