Iran Protests: Sanandaj Becomes Latest Killing Zone Amid Worsening State Violence
Oil Workers Wage Strikes in Solidarity with Nationwide Anti-State Demonstrations
October 10, 2022 – The government in Iran must immediately halt its use of lethal force against civilian protesters, including in the besieged province of Kurdistan, where at least four people were reportedly killed and more than one hundred injured on October 9, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today.
“The ruthless killings of civilians by security forces in Kurdistan Province, on the heels of the massacre in Baluchestan Province, are likely preludes to severe state violence to come,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
“World leaders must move beyond statements of condemnation to collective action through an international front signaling to the government in Iran that the international community will not look the other way and conduct business as usual while it slaughters unarmed civilians,” Ghaemi said.
“Heads of governments around the world, including U.S. President Joe Biden, should take immediate action at the UN Human Rights Council for an emergency session and resolution echoing the concerns over the Iranian state’s violence expressed by the OHCHR and UN experts,” added Ghaemi.
Videos shared online by the Norway-registered Hengaw human rights organization showed heavy gunfire and explosions in the city of Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province on October 9, with a caption stating that the city was being “heavily shelled.”
Hengaw also reported violence in the village of Salas-Babajani, near the border with Iraq, and identified Arin Muridi, 22, as a civilian who died after being shot there “in the chest and neck by government forces.”
Internet and phone access are unavailable or very slow in many parts of Kurdistan, as the Iranian authorities continue to disrupt access to the internet inside Iran in order to quell the protests and prevent news of the state’s violence from reaching the world. This has made the process of authenticating videos and contacting people in the region extremely difficult.
Several cities in Kurdistan Province, like many provinces in Iran, have had ongoing protests since September 16, 2022—the day Mahsa (Zhina was her Kurdish name) Amini, from the Kurdish city of Saqqez, was pronounced dead in Tehran just a few days after being arrested by the morality police there for allegedly wearing “improper” hijab.
At least 185 people—including 19 children—have been killed since nationwide, anti-state protests broke out across Iran on September 16, according to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights group, with at least 90 deaths reported in Zahedan, Baluchestan Province.
More than 1,800 people had been arrested as of October 10, according to Iranian government tallies, although CHRI emphasizes that number is likely a significant underestimate.
This number includes 1,200 arrests reported by an Iranian official on October 2, and 700 other arrests in Hamadan province alone, “80 percent of the under 25,” according to the province’s IRGC commander Mazaher Majidi.
Among those arrested are 92 members of civil society who were not arrested during any protest but instead were arbitrarily detained at their homes or workplaces after Judiciary Chief Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i ordered “preventative detentions” on September 22, 2022.
Solidarity Strikes Erupt in Oil-Producing Region
Additional protests by large numbers of oil and petrochemical project workers began in the towns of Asalouyeh, Bushehr Province, as well as in Abadan, Khuzestan Province, one of Iran’s biggest oil and petrochemical centers, on October 10 in a show of solidarity with the country’s growing protest movement.
“To [all] our colleagues in oil, gas and petrochemical projects, in all refineries and petrochemicals; in the oil platforms as well as the drilling sites, we declare that now is the time for widespread protests and to prepare ourselves for nationwide and back-breaking strikes,” said a statement posted to the Contractual Oil Workers Protest Organizing Council channel on Telegram, October 10.
“This is the beginning of the road and we will continue our protests together with the entire nation day after day,” added the statement.
Videos shared online showed strikers in this critical industry chanting “Death to Khamenei,” referring to the country’s unelected Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as “Brave Iranians! We support you! We support you!”