The protests in Iran continued overnight into Sunday as the Islamic Republic resorted to deploying the military to quash protesters who had gained control over a small city.
The mourning ceremonies for two protesters who were killed in recent days in Mahabad, a small Kurdish-majority city in West Azarbaijan province, turned into fierce protests throughout the day and by night the whole city was in control of the protesters.
Incessant gunshots were heard in videos from Mahabad as the Internet and power were shut down in parts of the city while regime forces kept shooting and breaking windows of people's homes.
According to footage published on social media, the streets of Mahabad are packed with military vehicles, and the situation in the city is so tense that it seems martial law has been declared. In one of the incidents, a large gathering was held by the city’s authorities in which people were told the governor would deliver a speech, but security forces opened fire at the crowd. The number of casualties from the city remains unknown.
Many people on social media have called for support for the people of Mahabad. Iranian football legend Ali Karimi, a key supporter of the popular uprising, called on Iranians to immediately help Mahabad amid fears of a massacre. "Shame on you for deploying tanks to crack down on people who are emty-handed," Karimi tweeted.
Antiriot vehicles in the city of Mahabad
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), issued a statement on Sunday condemning the indiscriminate crackdown on residents of Kurdish cities and towns. PDKI, which is banned in Iran as an anti-government group, is based in the Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Saturday evening, November 19, the Iranian regime appears to have imposed martial laws in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. Iran's terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has reportedly entered Mahabad with heavy military weapons and equipment... The lives of many people are in danger.” read the statement.
The party also called on the international community and human rights organizations to not remain silent over “the massacre of the Kurdish people,” noting that the silence of the international community will further embolden the regime to target innocent people and demonstrators.
German member of European Parliament Hannah Neumann also tweeted in support of the residents of the city. “Gun shots. Civilians screaming. Electricity turned off. Limited internet access. The regime kills in darkness. We need to put the spotlight on what happens,” she said.
People in other cities of the province, including Boukan (Bukan), Khoy, Piranshahr, and Oshnavieh, also poured into streets to express support for the people of Mahabad.
Iranians have been holding daily demonstrations for more than two months but the protests were mainly in big cities. In recent days small towns have also become scenes of unrest as mourning ceremonies for fellow residents happen to morph into protest rallies.
In addition to pockets of protests in large cities, Marivan and Divandarreh in Kodestan province, Malekan in East Azarbaijan province, Mahallat and Saveh in Markazi, Golpayegan in Esfahan, Paveh in Kermanshah, and many more are the scenes of protests on Sunday.
As people are protesting across the country, large numbers of expatriate Iranians in diaspora communities held rallies in support of the protests in over 100 cities on Saturday.