On February 22, IRGC forces opened fire on a group of fuel porters at the border crossing city of Saravan, leaving several dead and wounded. Latest reports say that at least 40 people have died and more than 100 have been injured.
“At least 40 protesters have been killed in yesterday and today’s brutal attacks, and over 100 people wounded and hospitalized, some in critical condition. The IRGC also set fire to dozens of vehicles with which the porters transferred their fuel,” the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) stated.
According to eyewitnesses and videos circulated on social media, the IRGC used heavy machine guns to fire on the porters and set several of their vehicles ablaze. The security forces later opened fire on a village near the area the incident took place, causing all residents to flee.
The Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) described the situation in Saravan city as tense. “The IRGC has also dispatched several armed forces squads to the Saravan county to prevent potential protests by the families of the victims and the enraged citizens. More reports indicated that the IRGC had blocked roads to the Razi hospital and the morgue in Saravan, where the bodies of the victims were being held,” the MEK wrote on its website.
In response to the government’s blind crackdown on Baluch people, Saravan residents raided and occupied the local Governorate, venting their anger over the oppressive measures and bloodshed. They also overturned police vehicles and set them ablaze as a sign of their ire.
In such circumstances, it is imperative that the international community interferes with the issue, pushing the Iranian government to stop suppression, dissidents believe. The case of Tehran’s violation of human rights should be submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and criminals must be brought to justice, they added.
For many years, the Iranian government’s systematic discrimination has led residents of border provinces like Sistan and Baluchestan in the southeast, Kurdistan in the west, and Khuzestan in the southwest to resort to hard and harmful jobs to feed their family members.
Undeniable evidence shows that officials’ mismanagement is the main reason for rampant poverty, unemployment, and even poor nutrition in these areas, inhabited by religious and ethnic minorities, observers say.
Instead, not only does the government not attempt to improve locals’ living conditions but also exerts more pressure on impoverished people. In this context, most social protests are shaped in these provinces.
These people, who apparently see that the government has abandoned them, have grasped that the protests are their sole instrument to achieve their inherent rights. Therefore, despite the government’s flagrant suppression, they diligently continue protests.
Transporting insignificant amounts of fuel is one of the hard and risky jobs in Sistan and Baluchestan province. Many people carry some gallons of gas in return for meager money. However, the government, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), frequently targets these people known as Soukhtbar [fuel porter].