Numerous businesses and workers were on strike in Iran as people poured into streets on Wednesday, the second day of three days of rallies to mark the anniversary of November 2019 bloody protests.
Answering calls by grassroot groups for nationwide protests on November 15, 16, and 17 -- in honor of over 1,500 protesters killed by security forces three years ago– many cities across Iran were scenes of protests, with reports of clashes and casualties from several cities. Wednesday was one of the bloodiest days of the protests with unconfirmed reports saying several people were killed in different bouts of violence in Izeh in Khuzestan province, Bukan in West Azarbaijan province, and Esfahan.
Clashes erupted early in the morning in the Kurdish-majority city of Kamyaran after the bereaved family of a protester killed by security forces gathered outside the hospital to get his body but government agents opened fire at them.
The protester, identified as Foad Mohammadi, was a 38-year-old father of two. According to social media reports, one person was killed and several were injured in clashes that has spread all over the city following his funeral service.
In Saqqez, another Kurdish city and hometown of Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody sparked the current wave of protests, security forces were reportedly trying to take the body of a 16-year-old protester, identified as Danial Paybandi, from the hospital, but people gathered there to stop them, leading to clashes. The Islamic Republic’s agents have abducted the bodies of dead protesters reportedly on several occasions since the protests began in mid-September both to threaten their families against holding public funerals – that tend to morph into demonstrations – and also to bury them in unknown places in case their families do not give in to pressures and seek public ceremonies.
Until around noon, students also held fresh rounds of rallies at several university campuses across the country and chanted slogans against the Islamic Republic. Hours into the evening, demonstrations started to take place in various cities with many pocket protest gatherings in the capital Tehran and neighboring cities as well as other metropolitans.
People in many shopping centers and subway stations staged flash mob protests and chanted slogans. Security forces responded by violent crackdown using tear gas and rubber bullets. Some of the slogans have changed in par with the clampdown, with people now chanting that “fire should be answered with fire.”
As the Internet is almost shut down in many cities, footage from the Wednesday protests is trickling online showing numerous bouts of protests in different neighborhoods of the capital as well as in other cities.
In some neighborhoods of Tehran, such as Nazi Abad, people were dancing on streets while in some others, such as Shahrak-e Gharb and Ekbatan districts, people set fire to trash cans and blocked the streets to stop the movement of security forces. In some neighborhoods, security forces were reportedly shooting at people.
Protesters in the cities of Tabriz, in East Azarbaijan province, Boukan (Bukan) in West Azarbaijan, Hafshejan in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Doroud in Lorestan, Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi, Qaem Shahr and Behshahr in Mazandaran, Bandar-e Lengeh in Hormozgan, and Kerman, Ilam, and Hamedan as well as many others also held rallies, chanting slogans against the regime and its crackdown on protesters.
Gunshots could be heard in several social media videos. Elsewhere, security forces were seen violently arresting protesters. In Doroud people pulled down the flag of the Islamic Republic and in Boukan a huge gathering was held outside the governor’s office. The office of Supreme Leader’s representee in the city of Abdanan in the Ilam province was reportedly exploded.
According to reports, the electricity was also out in the city of Behshahr and water is also cut off in the city of Mahabad. In Khuzestan, people on social media suggest that protesters are also shooting back at the security forces.
One of the main hotspots Wednesday was the city of Izeh in the south-western Khuzestan province, where several people have been killed so far and clashes still continues into the night. People on social media say security forces have been on a killing spree in the city but Iran’s state media has claimed a terrorist attack.
Protesters in Izeh in the southern province of Khuzestan
One of the protesters killed in Izeh on November 17
In the deadly incident, in which at least five people have been killed, a gunman with an AK-47 mounted on a motorcycle opened fire at protesters, injuring a large number of them. Fars news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, claims that it was a terrorist attack, although many government agents ride on motorcycles carrying guns. The agency says that the city’s seminary has been also set on fire.