On Friday, June 10, the state-run media in Iran reported that the Parliament [Majlis] is pursuing to legitimize the security forces’ use of weapons during “illegal armed demonstrations,” based on a new government bill. A large number of footage has already been posted on and circulated on several social media platforms showing security forces arbitrarily using lethal force against peaceful protesters in recent weeks.
The following footage shows security forces shooting at protesters’ heads and eyes in Shahrekord, the capital of the southwestern province of Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari, after nationwide protests against the price hikes in essential food staples.
#IranProtests#ChaharMahalAndBakhtiari, SW #Iran—security forces shoot at protesters' heads and eyes in #Shahrekord. Plainclothes try to seize defiant youths, but they escape.
The world must not remain silent against mullahs' atrocities.@Mike_Pence, @mikepompeo, @RichardGrenell pic.twitter.com/e4gFQn90VP
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) May 16, 2022
Another video by citizens from the city of Abadan shows the security forces’ use of weapons to crack down on grieving and protesting families of the victims of the Metropol collapse in Abadan, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. On May 23, the ten-story twin towers collapsed, claiming more than 42 victims and leaving many more injured. Locals have said that the actual death toll is much higher.
This incident led many citizens to take to the streets to vent their anger over the government’s systematic corruption and mismanagement. In response, security agents and Basij forces, a paramilitary subsidiary of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), used lethal force and directly targeted defenseless protesters with assault rifles.
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) May 28, 2022
The Etemad Online quoted Mehdi Sa’adati Bisheh Sari, a member of the Majlis National Security Commission, in their publication, saying, “Military forces have to use weapons to defend themselves. The draft amendment to the law on the use of weapons has recently been put on the parliament’s agenda; the law, called the ‘armed forces’ use of weapons in urgent cases,’ was passed in January 1994, more than 20 years ago.”
It’s worth pointing out that Sa’adati is an IRGC Brig. General, a former IRGC Commander in provinces of Hormozgan, Hamedan, Mazandaran, and Khuzestan, and a former Governor of Gilan Province. He was one of protégés of Qassem Soleimani, the slain IRGC-Quds Force chief.
Sa’adati is an IRGC Brig. General, a former IRGC Commander in provinces of Hormozgan, Hamedan, Mazandaran, and Khuzestan, and a former Governor of Gilan Province.
The state-run Didar News website also cited Sa’adati as saying, “Security forces protect people’s lives; the protectors should be safe. In this respect, we are discussing the ‘Security forces’ use of weapon’ law in the Majlis [Parliament] National Security Commission. The Majlis National Security Commission seriously considers the deficits of the law regarding ‘police officers’ use of weapons,’ trying to return authority to this force.”
State-Run Media Justifies Arbitrary Murders
The Iranian regime’s state-run media has attempted to attribute the Majlis plan to the murder of a security officer in February. The semi-official Tabnak website wrote, “Following the ‘martyrdom’ of the Bidzard Police Station deputy chief in Shiraz—the capital of the southcentral province of Fars—in a clash with thugs on February 2, netizens launched a campaign on social media, criticizing security forces’ conditions for the use of weapons.”
This is while the government has severely restricted access to social media and filtered Twitter and Facebook. The Majlis has already passed a plan for limiting cyberspace, dubbed the “plan for preserving users’ rights on cyberspace and organizing social media.” The plan has prohibited almost every foreign platform.
Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf commented that social security would only meet with the police’s authority. Remarkably, he was the security forces chief from 2000 to 2005, thanks to his crucial role in suppressing the Student Protests in 1999.
He tweeted, “The Armed Forces General Staff and security force should submit the necessary amendments to the parliament as soon as possible to the ‘Law on the Use of Weapons,’ so that it can be considered and approved out of turn.”
The Majlis Paves the Path for Bloody Crackdowns
The Etemad Online explained, “The bill, which will be debated in Majlis in the coming weeks, will change the legal term ‘Armed Forces Agents’ to ‘Armed Agents’. In addition to the armed forces, ‘other persons authorized by law to carry weapons’ will be able to use them based on the new law’s provisions.”
In other words, not only does the new law give the green light to armed forces to use lethal force against demonstrators, but it also provides legal cover for every government employee who carries weapons to murder dissidents with impunity.
It should be noted that many city officials in Iran are armed. Back in June 2019, then-Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi killed his wife Mitra Ostad with his own pistol.
“Per the bill draft, if ‘individuals who are armed by the authorities to protect themselves’ commit a crime, they will not be punished following the Islamic Penal Code. Where their use of weapons is considered a ‘legitimate’ defense, there will be no need to pay compensation,” the Etemad Online added.
Their report shed light on the authorities’ real purpose through the bill, which is to counter upcoming protests. One excerpt from the report read, “While the current law only allows military and police officers to use weapons to establish order and security in illegal armed demonstrations, unrest, and riots on the order of the operation commander, the government’s bill allows ‘security agents’ to use arms too.”
The state-run media had already reported that the regime’s mullahs have elevated the State Security Forces (SSF) to a Special Units Command, raising the rank of SSF commander Hossein Ashtari to the level of Chief Commander of the Army and IRGC.
The Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC-Quds Force, quoted SSF spokesperson Mehdi Hajian on May 15 as saying, “Due to the grace of the commander-in-chief [Khamenei], the SSF structure has changed from a force to a general command such as the IRGC general command or the Army general command.”
On December 6, 2021, the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri declared the decision. He said, “The approval of the comprehensive plan of the structure and organization of ‘General Command of the Law Enforcement’ by the commander-in-chief is a source of improvement and a landmark for further security.”
Many dissidents have said, “Obviously, Khamenei prepares his oppressive apparatuses against looming protests through such attempts. The establishment of new oppressive systems is underway while many people deal with unprecedented inflation and skyrocketing prices of essential food staples.”
They added, “Such decisions show that the regime can no longer count on its so-called social base, as it has completely failed to reduce the gap between an unelected state and a volcanic society. ‘Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is null and void,’ ‘Death to Khamenei and Raisi,’ and ‘The mullahs must get lost’ slogans in recent protests prove this reality.”