By Hamid Enayat
A week of turmoil in southern Iran
A massive crowd of locals in Abadan, southwest Iran, took to the streets on Wednesday night, May 25, in anti-regime protests triggered by the collapse of the city’s Metropol tower on Monday, May 23. Angry protesters were chanting slogans against the regime, local officials, and the corrupt contractor responsible for the faulty construction project that led to the tower crumbling down, leaving at least 26 people killed, 37 injured, and dozens still missing. Wednesday night saw protesters chanting slogans specifically targeting senior regime and local Abadan and Khuzestan province officials for their destructive policies and corruption that led to the disaster, and recent incompetence in providing necessary aid during the rescue effort.
Public distrust in the regime’s claims escalated further following remarks made by the representative of Khuzestan province in the Supreme Provincial Council that the former mayor of Abadan, who oversaw the inauguration of the Metropol tower, now has a post in the Investment Organization of Abadan Municipality.
The protests continued and expanded to other cities across the country.
On Thursday night the cities of Khorramshahr, Abadan, Bandar Abbas, and others were scenes of people launching similar gatherings and protest rallies.
People in those demonstrations were seen chanting slogans such as “Mullahs must get lost!” “I will kill those who killed my brother!” and “[Khamenei!] The city is under rubble!” referring to the 10-story Metropol tower.
Thousands of people took to the streets in several cities of Iran on Friday night, May 27, in solidarity with the people of Abadan, holding demonstrations and chanting anti-regime slogans. According to videos posted online from these demonstrations, the cities of Bushehr, Mahshahr, Shahin Shahr, Ahvaz, Omidiyeh, and Abadan were scenes of these anti-regime demonstrations.
Protesters were chanting: “Death to the dictator!” in reference to the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, “Our enemy is right here! They lie in saying its America!” “All these years of crimes! Death to the supreme leader”, targeting Khamenei, “Neither Gaza! Nor Lebanon! My life for Abadan!” and “Let go of Syria! Think about us!”
Videos on social media show State Security Forces began firing directly with live bullets at the demonstrators and using tear gas against protesters.
Reports also indicate scenes in other cities of Khuzestan province, southwest Iran, including Izeh, where regime authorities dispatched a large number of security units to the streets to prevent people from holding mourning ceremonies and demonstrations.
Regime authorities have been busy dispatching security forces and anti-riot units from Ahvaz and other cities to Abadan, according to social media reports. Activists continue to report internet disruptions in cities witnessing protests and authorities are also using drones to control the marching protesters from above. Videos posted online indicate state security forces in different cities attacking the peaceful demonstrators.
The authorities disrupted internet access in many cities to prevent the spread of reports regarding these protests and in a prelude to crackdown measures. Reports circulating on social media platforms indicated the regime’s security forces using anti-riot pellet guns against protesters in Shahin Shahr of Isfahan province.
On Saturday night, similar protests were held in Tehran, Shahr-e Rey, Andimeshk, Behbahan, Qom, Minoo Island, and Susangerd.
Security forces also forced stores to close, arresting their owners and transferring them to unknown locations. Despite intense measures by regime authorities, locals in the capital Tehran held a vigil for the people of Abadan and held rallies where people began chanting “Death to the dictator!” referring to regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. People were also chanting: “Khamenei is a murderer, and his rule is invalid!”
In Andimeshk, demonstrators resisted security forces dispatched to quell the protests. Since the incident, instead of conducting relief efforts, the regime has dispatched security forces to different cities to prevent and quell protests.
People took to the streets on Sunday for the fifth consecutive night. The cities of Abadan, Masjed Soleyman, and Kazerun were scenes of anti-regime rallies and gatherings held in the memory of the 29 people killed on May 23 in Abadan.
People in these cities were holding their rallies in solidarity with the people of Abadan. Reports from Khuzestan and other provinces indicate authorities are heavily disrupting internet access. In Tehran, authorities dispatched anti-riot units to the city theater to prevent locals from even holding a vigil in solidarity with the people of Abadan. Locals in Abadan also jeered and disrupted a gathering held by the regime’s authorities and security forces, showing their utter hatred of the mullahs’ regime.
People in Abadan were chanting:“I will kill those who killed my brother!”, “We are ready for war and will fight to the end!”, “Basiji, get lost!” referring to members of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Basij forces.
Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition leader and the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) hailed people and protesters who have risen in support of the people of Abadan and its protests.
“From protests after the collapse of Abadan Metropol, to the people’s rebellion and protests against high prices, this widespread misery echoes the same message everywhere: revolution is on its way,” Mrs. Rajavi said, in an allusion to the unrest spread in the country’s southern cities last week following the sharp rise in elementary food prices.
Mrs. Rajavi also emphasized that the tragedy in Abadan is a manifestation of the 43-year rule of the clerical regime, which has brought Iranian people nothing but crimes, corruption, and theft.
“These protests and anti-regime slogans reflect the desires of all Iranians to overthrow the mullahs’ ominous rule.”