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Iran: Protesters handed harsh sentences as domestic crackdown continues

The notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been diverting water from habitations to its steel factory in Isfahan. Many locals gathered to protest the IRGC’s action. Understandably, because a country’s leadership should never take such essential resources from the people for its own economic interests.

During the protests, a large number of locals were arrested and 103 people were tried in the Borujen Criminal Court. They were accused of “disobeying government agents on duty” and “disrupting public order and peace”.

In the end, 86 people were sentenced by the regime. There was a grand total of 344 months in prison handed out, plus 2,580 lashes. Just for protesting the regime’s diversion of their water.

Water in the area is critical to the livelihoods of many. The region already suffers from water scarcity problems (like other large parts of the country). Other instances of water transfer have left other parts of the country with a major water crisis.

The incident resulting in a large number of arrests took place back in July 2016. Protesters and security forces clashed and, as well as a number of arrests, there were several people wounded and a few protesters killed.

Although the full water transfer plan has not been fully implemented, it is thought that the plans are still in place.

The Isfahan Steel Factory (also known as the Mobarakeh Steel Factory) is one of the biggest steelmakers in the whole of the Middle East and North Africa region. In October last year, the United States Treasury Department sanctioned it because of its links with the IRGC and because it had been funding the suppressive Basij force.

Iran’s Basij Resistance Force is a paramilitary force that works under the command of the IRGC. It has been known to recruit, train and deploy child soldiers and it has played a crucial role in expanding the Iranian regime’s influence across the region.

In a press release, the US Treasury said: “OFAC is designating Esfahan’s Mobarakeh Steel Company pursuant to E.O. 13224 for assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Company.”

The human rights situation in Iran continues to deteriorate and it is all because the regime is nearing its end. It is desperately trying to put a lid of the domestic discontent that has been simmering for several years.

General strikes and protests are happening with great frequency and the people are making it very clear that they are not happy with the economic situation that has been brought about by decades of mismanagement and widespread corruption.

Instead of stopping their protests in fear of being imprisoned, the people of Iran are making sure the momentum remains. Their determination is obvious and it is scaring the regime.

Now, it is the responsibility of the international community to call the regime out for its blatant disregard of human rights and to show the people of Iran that they are not in this alone.

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