On Monday, February 22, Iranian citizens were taken aback by harrowing news about the killing of Iranian Baluch fuel carriers in Saravan city, in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan. According to local reports, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the State Security Forces (SSF) targeted fuel porters, leading to several dozen deaths and injuries.
#BREAKING#Iran's IRGC targeted Baluch citizens, who are carrying fuel to make ends meet, with live ammunition, leading to several deaths and injuries.#HumanRights activists in Saravan city identified at least six victims as of this report.
Witnesses say victims are far higher. pic.twitter.com/CFc0kd7kWk
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) February 22, 2021
Eyewitnesses and human rights defenders have reported that the regime has killed at least nine Baluch residents so far. Images and videos posted on social media showed a dense presence of IRGC forces along with heavy artillery and tanks.
Furthermore, the IRGC had dug deep ditches at border crossings to prevent the commute of fuel porters. Poverty and unemployment have driven underprivileged people to make ends meet through hard jobs like transporting fuel. However, oppressive forces frequently target them under the excuse of combating trafficking.
This is while the IRGC is the main smuggling entity in Iran, which controls almost all of Iran’s border crossings and gates. In July 2011, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described IRGC commanders and merchants as “Smuggler Brothers.”
“The annual cost of smoking in Iran is between $1.3-1.48 billion. This figure tempts international smugglers, let alone our smuggler brothers,” said Ahmadinejad in the Specialized Conference on New Strategies in Prevention and Combating Smuggling Commodity and Currency on July 4, 2011.
To prevent other citizens from joining protests and raising their voices, the regime tries to silence Saravan protesters at all costs. According to footage circulated on social media, the IRGC has dispatched several armed forces squads to Saravan.
The regime has also blocked roads leading to Saravan’s Razi hospital and morgue, where victims’ bodies were being held. Officials are profoundly concerned about families’ backlash.
In response to the regime’s crime and ongoing crackdown on Baluch residents, protesters raided and occupied Saravan Governorate. The event displayed public ire against the oppressive forces and people’s determination to end such oppressive measures.
#IranProtests#SistanAndBaluchestan—in response to #IRGCTerrorists' cruel murder of at least eight Baluch fuel carriers in Saravan city, locals raided and conquered the local Governorate.#StopKillingFuelCarriers pic.twitter.com/SxX2zaprlQ
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) February 23, 2021
“On Tuesday, in spite of the heavy presence of security forces, the residents of Saravan held a demonstration in front of governorate building, protesting the killing of fuel porters by IRGC forces. The IRGC tried to disperse the protesters by opening fire on and throwing smoke grenades at the demonstrators. But the protesters held their ground and forced the IRGC forces to retreat,” the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) reported.
To justify the IRGC’s cruelty, Iranian officials laid blame on fuel porters, claiming, “The gathering of the fuel carriers at the border crossing and their lack of restraint has caused the attack on our border station today.” This is while videos posted on social media show that the regime initially used tanks and artillery to quell people’s anger.
On the other hand, just like the gas protests in November 2019, the regime immediately cut off the internet in Saravan, to censor news of the protests and prevent them from reaching other provinces. “Today, some people provoked the people on cyberspace to assemble a rally and again, some attacked the governorate… Anti-revolution groups and dissidents had drawn a roadmap and encouraged opportunist individuals to engage in such activities,” said a security official.
However, the people, particularly youths, continue protests against the dictatorship that has deprived them of essential needs and led the country to misery and poverty.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), expressed her support of the people of Saravan, who have stood up against the tyranny of the mullahs’ regime.
“This is the only way for the people of Iran to achieve their rights in the face of the mullahs’ vicious regime,” Mrs. Rajavi said while calling on all youths, particularly in Sistan and Baluchestan, to join the protests and support the people of Saravan in their plight.
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) February 23, 2021