Iran Human Rights 71 Iranians Summoned to Court Over July Protests

71 Iranians Summoned to Court Over July Protests

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Some 71 Iranians were summoned to the Public and Revolution Court in Behbahan, southeastern Khuzestan Province, on Saturday over their roles in the July protests.

They must all appear in court within five days to face the trumped-up charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader, disrupting public order and the country’s security, and assembly and collusion against national and foreign security”.

What Were the July 2020 Protests in Southern Iran?

On July 16, Iranian people poured into the streets of Behbahan and Shiraz to protest the dire economic conditions, which were the sole result of the government’s mismanagement, as well as the death penalty given to three young protesters—Amir-Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeed Tamjidi—arrested in the November 2019 protests.

These protests were completely peaceful until the State Security Forces (SSF) showed up and fired tear gas into the crowds in order to disperse the anti-establishment protesters. Videos posted by activists and protesters on social media show SSF cruelty versus defenseless protesters.

The authorities also cut off the internet in Behbahan and restricted it across Khuzestan, according to Netblocks.org and locals on Twitter. This is a common tactic to prevent protesters from talking to each other or the outside world.

Khuzestan Province’s Security Chief Heydar Abbaszadeh said on July 19 that all of the “instigators” were arrested and called the protest “a transgression”. He claimed that “a handful” of people had rallied in a Behbahan square “under the pretext of complaining about high prices” and yelled slogans “against the norms of the society”, which is government lingo for demanding regime change.

He did not announce the number of people arrested or give out any names, but it was reported on social medial that Farzaneh Ansarifard was arrested. She is the sister of Farzad Ansarifard, a man killed during the November 2019 protests in Behbahan that were part of a wider protest across the county.

In fact, the July protests can be seen as a continuation of the November 2019 protests, in which protesters in Behbahan were some of the first to be targeted by the security forces, resulting in dozens of protesters there being shot.

This included:

  • Mehrdad Dashti Nia
  • Mahmoud Dashti Nia
  • Farzad Ansari Far
  • Mohammad Hossein Ghanavati
  • Ehsan Abdollah Nejad
  • Mohammad Hasham

A further 36 Behbahan protesters were given harsh sentences for taking part in the nationwide protests. On October 22, they were sentenced to a total of 109 years in prison and 2,590 lashes, while everyone receiving a fine of 30 million rials [approximately $107].

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