Protests in Iran: "The police shoot directly at the population"

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eIt looks as if the Iranian government had guessed what great unrest the decision should provoke. She sent her message announcing a drastic increase in fuel prices from Thursday to Friday at 20 minutes past midnight. But should the regime have insisted that on the Islamic weekend – Friday – the news would sink in the general leisure stress, it has miscalculated.

Because the recent wave of protest is huge. In at least 50 cities there were demonstrations against the rationing of gasoline and the tripling of the fuel price. Surprisingly, the focus is not on the capital Tehran, the biggest demos are more in suburban areas, poorer regions and large settlements.

Petrol station in Tehran set on fire during the protests

Petrol station in Tehran set on fire during the protests

Source: dpa

Thousands of people are moving through the streets, cars are burning, roads are being blocked. The Islamic leadership is trying to suppress the rebellion by all means. The internet is completely blocked. There are now many injured and dead.

The human rights organizations Amnesty International speaks of at least 106 deaths. The protests are no longer just about gas. It's about a system that makes life even harder for people overnight.

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It started in the southwestern province of Chuzestan. The day after, the protests spread like wildfire. In Tehran, people blocked motorways with cars and trucks. Then there were riots in Shiraz in the south of the country. It was followed by Kurdish areas, Azerbaijani cities in the northwest, the city of Mashhad, which is holy to the Islamic Republic, Yazd, which is called the capital of the reformers, and the metropolis of Karaj.

The 28-year-old Ana, whose name was changed for security reasons, has seen many political protest movements. She lives in Tabriz, capital of the province of East Azerbaijan and largest city with Azerbaijani population. There had been clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the city in the past. But this time, she says on the phone, everything is very different than usual.

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"The city is full of police and so-called special forces," she says the day after the protests. "Even on roads and intersections where there is rarely anything going on, police and plainclothes police are ready." The city of millions reminds of a ghost town. "As if only policemen were living in Tabriz."

On Monday morning, November 18, students from the University of Tabriz joined forces with protesters on the street. But the riot police broke the demo. The security forces took some participants, including students. On Sunday, city buses were on fire, a state authority was attacked. Ana either saw it herself or heard it from friends.

Road blockade in central Iran's Isfahan

Road blockade in central Iran's Isfahan

Source: AP

Burnt out building in the town of Schahrijar, about 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran

Burnt out building in the town of Schahrijar, about 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran

Source: AP

She could not inform herself online, she says, there is no Internet, no sources of information. Whether the interruption of the Internet could prevent further protests, they do not know, says Ana. "But I'm sure it affects our everyday lives. Being cut off from the rest of the world gives me the feeling of being strangled. I wonder: how would the world get if someone killed us? "

The internet shutdown in Iran has been running since Saturday, November 17th. According to netblocks.org, which observes the Internet blockades around the world, the flow of data between Iran and the global network has fallen to currently five percent of normal levels. On Twitter you hardly read any posts from Iran. The use of Telegram, the most popular messenger service in the country, has become almost impossible.

But despite all the restrictions, Negar from Tehran, who does not want to give her real name, manages to write a few tweets. On Twitter, the 29-year-old sociology student calls for information exchange in a roundabout way.

"What happened today, I have never experienced"

In a secure phone conversation, she says, "I've been involved in all the protests for ten years. I have never experienced anything that happens today. I personally know two people whose acquaintances have been killed. "Meanwhile, it is quiet in the central and western districts of Tehran, but in poorer places in the east of the capital and the area where commuters live, there is still a state of emergency, so Negar.

"The intensity of the violence is second to none. The police shoot directly at the population. I witnessed it personally. And people are defending themselves harder, however they can. "She also sees Iranians living abroad and Western countries as responsible for putting pressure on Iranian embassies and consulates. "So that the regime releases the Internet again."

Destroyed bank branch in Schahrijar

Destroyed bank branch in Schahrijar

Source: dpa

All factions within the theocracy defend the rise in gasoline prices, from President Hassan Ruhani to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani – although Parliament has not voted on the issue. Ali Khamenei, the country's top religious leader, has called the protesters scum.

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The price increase was decided by a special council set up by the Islamic leadership in May to "defend itself against the US-led economic war," it is said officially. The official reason is: "The petrol subsidies reach only the upper views. There can be no subsidy for gasoline. "

American sanctions have apparently reached their goal of putting Tehran under pressure. The punitive measures have led to the country having to contend with a considerable budget deficit, says the Iranian business journalist Mostafa Dehghan, who has been living in Germany for a year. "The government had no other way to compensate for this deficit," he says.

Because the oil export had fallen considerably. The country needs other sources to raise money. Part of this shortfall will be compensated for by the more expensive gasoline, and another part because gasoline consumption is falling and the state can export more of it. "After all, it is much easier to export gasoline than oil," says Dehghan.

Protest in the city of Sari in the north of the country

Protest in the city of Sari in the north of the country

Source: AP

However, the price of gas has a not inconsiderable influence on the everyday lives of people – especially in the poor. "Since there is no public transport accessible to all, a large proportion of the lower classes are traveling by car or shared taxis. If the gasoline is more expensive, each trip costs more. "

First and foremost, it affects commuters who live in and around large cities and drive to work every day. The high inflation rate last year has already affected their quality of life. The fuel price increase does the rest.



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https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article203658512/Proteste-im-Iran-Die-Polizei-schiesst-direkt-auf-die-Bevoelkerung.html

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