ISSN 2330-717X

US Sanctions Commander Of IRGC Unit That Massacred Dozens Of Iranian Protesters In Southern City Of Mahshahr – OpEd

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On January 19, 2020, the name of Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour was added to the US sanctions list following the bloody suppression of the youth uprising in Mahshahr, southern Iran.

The US State Department included Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour on its list of sanctions on for commanding the killing of protesters in southern Iran in Khuzestan province during the last November uprising.

The United States in its official statement mentioned that units commanded by Brigadier General Shahvarpour are responsible for the deaths of at least 148 people, especially in Mahshahr, during the crackdown of November’s protests in Khuzestan with widespread human rights abuses.

Brigadier General Shahvarpour is the commander of the Vali-e-Asr Provincial Corps of IRGC in Khuzestan. Vali-e-Asr Corps is one of the 32 provincial corps in Iran that was formed in 2000 by merging the ground troops of IRGC and Basij. After Iran-Iraq War, the mission assigned to the IRGC was to suppress Iranian people. The goal of creating provincial corps was to give them more authority and power to make decisions in times of crisis, including internal threat and uprising of the people against the ruling regime in different provinces and cities in case they loose contact with the Central Command. For example, sending IRGC to suppress the people of Kurdistan province right after Iran-Iraq war.

Taking into account the above command and structure system, Khuzestan province in the south of Iran is similar to other provinces – a provincial corps called Vali-e-Asr or Khuzestan Corps – which is mainly responsible for suppressing popular protests in southern Iran and the province of Khuzestan.

Brigadier General Shahvarpour, now on the US sanctions list, is one of the well-known and long-time commanders of the Khuzestan Corp, born in Safi Abad in southern Dezful. He was involved in the Iran-Iraq war for eight years. Brigadier General Shahvarpour was the commander of the Seventh Armored Division of the Vali-e-Asr Brigade during the Iran-Iraq War.

This Brigade has now become one of the most important means of suppressing protesters and youths in the streets of various cities in Khuzestan province, who are facing poverty, discrimination, corruption and hunger.

The Revolutionary Guards, in fact the Vali-e-Asr or Khuzestan Corps commanded by Brigadier General Shahvarpour, are now responding to people’s protests with gunshots and shooting youths in the streets.After Iran-Iraq war, Hassan Shahvarpour was commander of Khuzestan’s Basij, and finally, in 2010, took command of the IRGC’s Vali-e-Asr Provincial Corps in Khuzestan in southern Iran, but his name and Vali-e-Asr brigade started circulating among the people and Media and social and international media after one of the bloodiest massacres and repression against the people in Mahshahr during the uprising of November 2019.

After the popular protests and country wide uprising to protest of rising gas prices across the country, cities in southern Iran and Khuzestan were also areas where the intensity of the protests and uprising was very high, resulting in the most severe killing and repression by the regime in this area.

The magnitude of the uprising and protests in Mahshahr and the importance of massacre and suppressing it in this industrial zone for the regime was such that the Revolutionary Guards took over the control of the suppression of the people from regular forces and IRGC entered the scene for suppression and massacre.

Brigadier General Shahvarpour was among the few commanders across Iran who brought armored vehicles from barracks to the streets of Mahshahr and surrounding areas to suppress the uprising and kill the protesters.

Mahshahr and its suburbs people were among the few cities in the country that machine guns and heavy machine guns at the behest of Shahvarpour were used in killing of people. An attack on the outskirts of Mahshahr and the massacre of innocent youth made widespread international news.

The Revolutionary Guards, under the command of Hassan Shahvarpour from Monday, November 7 to Wednesday, November 9, shot down any protester with the establishment of martial law in Mahshahr. The highest level of killing and repression across the country was done by him and the forces under his command in the area.

The extent of this repression and massacre was so great that for faster and more widespread repression of youth and protesters, the Revolutionary Guards, along with forces under Brigadier General Shahvarpour, also use the Special Forces of the Sepah Marine Corps in Mahshahr, which is a subset of the IRGC and is not commonly used in civil repression and killing. The crackdown was called the bloodiest suppression and killing in the November uprising.

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Hassan Mahmoudi

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and Social Media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.

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