Iranian authorities have settled on widespread and heavily publicized arrests of “security disruptors” in order to scare the people out of anti-establishment protests or any gathering that could spur an anti-establishment protest.
Mohammad Reza Yazdi, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) Mohammad Rasulallah brigade in Tehran, told state-run television on Monday that the role of his forces in the suppression of the people has increased dramatically since 2018, which was just after a major upheaval threatened to unseat the entire ruling system.
“In coordination with our brave brothers in the State Security Forces and Tehran’s prosecutor’s office, we have deployed Razaviun units in all cities to maintain the security… These efforts will continue until we can stop any attempt at disrupting security in the capillaries of cities,” Yazdi said.
A similar protest occurred in November 2019, so IRGC deputy commander Ali Fadavi increased the deployment of Razaviun security patrol units, controlled by the IRGC Basij forces, with the intention of quelling anti-establishment protests across the country.
On Sunday, Rahim Jahanbakhsh, State Security Forces commander in Zanjan, told the IRGC- affiliated Tasnim News Agency that 1,500 “security disruptors” who “spread rumors and cause[d] tensions in the society” had been arrested since February; something that is no doubt to do with the coronavirus pandemic and the authorities’ dire response.
“Cyberspace is a reality of the society, and this space has become a reality, which requires the expansion of security efforts in this domain,” he said.
It seems more like that the government was trying to hide accurate reports of coronavirus infections and deaths in order to make themselves look better so they arrested people sharing the truth.
That same day, Kermanshah State Security Forces commander Ali Akbar Javidan reported that that they had arrested 5,550 people labeled as “thugs and thieves” from March to September for causing “tensions and fear” in society.
On Friday, Kuhdasht State Security Forces commander Nabiollah Ghassemi said there were 98 arrests in police operations for “bad behavior” that threatened “public peace and security”. While last Tuesday, Semnan State Security Forces commander Abdollah Hassani reported that 3,000 people were arrested; 80 percent of whom were under 35, and cited cybercrime as one of the main reasons.
The ayatollahs have stepped up arbitrary arrests in order to scare the country into compliance. However, repression, a poor economy, and the government’s failed response to the pandemic mean that resentment is only growing. Many officials leaked their concerns over a new round of protests, using the term “nitrate of disappointment,” referring to Beirut’s major explosion.