Protesters Overrun Police Station As Civil Disobedience Continues In South-East Iran
Social media users and activists posted videos online that show protesters in southeastern Iran have attacked and overran a police station, as unrest continued for a third day following the killing of several Baluchi cross-border ‘fuel carriers’ by Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on Monday near the city of Saravan.
Reports also speak of strikes by businesses and workers in many cities and town of the Sitsan-Baluchistan province bordering Pakistan.
Reports also speak of security forces being reinforced from other parts of the country and their heavy presence in cities and towns. In some locations, police and heavily armed security units were trying to force people to end the strikes and open businesses in Zahedan, Iranshahr, Pahreh and Saravan where there are general strikes.
Videos posted on Wednesday morning show closed shops, perhaps in protest and civil disobedience, in Zahedan, the provincial capital with a population of around 600,000, Saravan, and Iranshahr, another city in the province with a majority Baluchi population.
Protesters overran a police station near Zahedan
On Tuesday social media users reported that angry protesters had taken over the offices of the city governor of Saravan. Videos showed protesters setting fires and destroying furniture outside and inside the building. The standoff at the governor’s office appears to have ended the same day.
According to social media reports, people of Jakigor, another town in the province, on Tuesday evening set fire to tires and blocked the transit road to the port city of Chabahar, a free trade zone on the Makran coast of the province with a significant role in the transit of goods to the rest of the country.
Officials have been silent about happenings in Sistan-Baluchestan, which is a highly sensitive province due to poverty, religious and ethnic issues, drug cartels, and militant Sunni political groups that move between Iran and Pakistan. Baluch representatives have long argued the mainly Sunni Baluchis suffer both religious and ethnic discrimination, with mainly Shia Sistanis given preference in government employment.
The only official comment was made Tuesday by Mohammad-Hadi Marashi, Security Deputy of Sistan-Baluchestan Governorate, who blamed Pakistani border guards for sparking Monday’s incident at the border by opening fire on hundreds of fuel carriers trying to get back into Iran after selling their wares. Marashi also blamed Jaish ul-Adl for matters getting out of hand.
Jaish al-Adl, a militant Sunni organization, was founded in 2012 by members of Jundallah, a group that mixed Baluchi nationalism and al-Qaeda-style suicide bombings and beheadings, and whose leader Abdolmalek Rigi was captured and executed by Iran in 2010. Jaish al-Adl has claimed responsibility for several attacks on Revolutionary Guards and other security forces including killing 14 border guards in the city of Saravan on October 25, 2013.