“I swear to God I am unemployed; don’t shoot. I’m here only to demand my rights!”
In a 30-second video circulating on social media, a young resident of impoverished Khuzestan, Iran, pleads for his life as the Iranian regime’s anti-riot forces attempt to disperse a crowd protesting the water crisis in the province.
Security forces have fatally shot at least four people during protests that erupted in Khuzestan on July 15, and have since spread to Tehran, Karaj, Tabriz and Esfahan, along with smaller protests in a few other cities.
Tehran has deployed special riot police and has brought additional Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces to the region.
Chants of “Down with the Dictator” and “Death to [Ali] Khamenei” (Iran’s supreme leader) were heard at many protests, including those in central Tehran.
On Tuesday (July 27), protesters took to the streets in Baharestan near Esfahan, where they tore up and burned a banner of Khamenei in the town square.
One of the main slogans chanted in protests that have roiled the country over the past two years is “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon; I would die for Iran”, in a clear sign of discontent with the regime’s misplaced priorities.
Iran’s regional interference and expansionist policies have cost the Iranian people dearly, with many expressing anger that money funneled to the IRGC’s Quds Force and its regional proxies could have been better spent at home.
People pay the price
Even on the brink of bankruptcy, Tehran continues to interfere in the region, and to fund and train its proxy groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria.
Meanwhile, the Iranian people are enduring extreme economic hardship that has only worsened with the coronavirus pandemic, observers say.
Faced with unemployment, severe stagflation, gross mismanagement of the pandemic and lies and denials about vaccination strategy, Iranians have been braving the extreme heat to gather in protest, despite the crackdown.
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