Iran: Courageous Youth Respond to Repressive Forces

According to preliminary reports received by the social headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside the country, the following developments occurred during the national Festival of Fire (Chaharshanbeh Suri):

1 – In Tehran and other cities across the country, including Tabriz, Kermanshah, Mashhad, Bushehr, Ahvaz, Qom, Hamedan, Khoramabad, Karaj, Rasht, Yasouj, Mahshar, Orumiyeh, Saqqez, Nourabad (Lorestan Province), Arak, Malayer, young activists set fire to Khamenei’s pictures and banners.

2 – In dozens of cities such as Tehran and Lavasan (north of Tehran) citizens set fire to centers of the paramilitary Basij and vehicles belonging to the security forces. One of the main organs of repression, the Basij particularly played an active role in cracking down on the recent major anti-regime protests. Tehran’s Fire Department Spokesman stated on the night of March 13 that more than 130 fire incidents had been reported from 4:30 to 10:30 pm.

3 – In several locations in Tehran and other the cities, including Kermanshah, Tabriz, Shahin-Shar (Isfahan), Fasa, and Doroud, the youth were involved in hit-and-run skirmishes with the repressive forces.

4 – In many cities such as Tehran, Kermanshah, Rasht, Gachsaran, Hamedan, Arak, Karaj, and Ardebil the youth and citizens marched and chanted slogans such as “Down with Khamenei,” “Down with dictator,” “Down with Basijis.”

5 – In many cities, such as Tehran, Tabriz, Rasht, Hamedan, Ardebil, and Gachsaran, wrote graffiti on walls, including slogans like “Down with Khamenei,” “Down with Rouhani,” “Down with dictator,” “Down with Basijis,” “Hail to Rajavi,” “Long live National Liberation Army of Iran.” Pictures of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, were posted on walls in different streets.

6 – In several cities, the youth turned Chaharshanbeh Suri into anti-regime protests by deploying creative acts. In Tehran’s Sadeqiyeh district the youth sent airborne many illuminated balloons with slogans “Down with Khamenei,” “Hail to Rajavi” written on them. In Kermanshah illuminated balloons read “Down with Khamenei, Down with IRGC, Down with Basiji, Down with the State Security Force.”

These actions were undertaken while the regime’s security and intelligence forces as well as the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij were put on full alert and did their utmost to prevent any political or anti-regime protest from occurring on Chaharshanbeh Suri. Over the past few weeks, senior officials of the State Security Force had threatened the public with serious consequences to intimate and dissuade them from engaging in any public protests.

Large numbers of youth were arrested across the country on March 13. According to Colonel Sayad Darvishi, the Deputy Commander of the State Security Force in Qom, “Some people put tires on fire in the middle of the road and created public disorder and traffic. We arrested 60 people for engaging in such acts.”

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and Social Media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.