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Iran regime cracks down on protests sparked by Metropol Tower collapse

Irán

For the seventh day running, Thousands of people in Abadan, in the oil rich Province of Khuzestan, southwest Iran, took to the streets on Monday night, May 31, in anti-regime protests triggered by the collapse of the city’s Metropol tower on May 23. People in Shadegan, and Izeh in Khuzestan province, Bushehr in Hormozgan province, Tehran, Zavareh in Isfahan province, and Kazerun in Fars province took to the streets in solidarity the people of Abadan and rallied against the mullahs’ regime.

The protests erupted two days after the fatal disaster as throngs of angry protesters staged a protest, 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 33 people killed, many more injured, and dozens still trapped under the rubble. 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.

Significance of the protests

The week-long protests spread quickly to different provinces, where people turned out in solidarity with the people of Abadan and vented their anger and disdain towards the regime in its entirety.  The scale of the protests and its geographical spread demonstrated the explosive state of Iranian society. 

Only a weak before, anti-regime protests took place in several cities against the high price of bread and food staples. As was the case in Abadan, protests elsewhere quickly took on political overtones, as enraged citizens have targeted regime leaders, specifically Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and his president, Ebrahim Raisi, and have called for the regime’s overthrow.  

Despite the heavy presence of the security forces, the people, especially the youths resisted the attempt to quell the protests and engaged in hit-and-run skirmishes with the suppressive forces. 

The protesters were distinct in the uniformity of the slogans and the leading role of women. As was the case in previous such protests, the MEK Resistance units actively took part and helped organize the direct the protests and politicized their slogans.   

The regime’s efforts to whitewash officials’ responsibility in the Metropol Tower disaster and its shedding of crocodile tears for the victims failed to stem the tide of protests as people in more cities voiced solidarity with the people of Abadan, including soccer fans during a match in Tehran’s Azadi stadium.

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.

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!”

Direct shots

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 as well. The cities of Abadan, Masjed Soleyman, and Kazerun were scenes of anti-regime rallies and gatherings.. 

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 paramilitary Basij forces.

Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) hailed the people and protesters who have risen in support of the people of Abadan and its protests. 

Maryam Rajavi
PHOTO/PHILIPP VON DIRFURTH - Maryam Rajavi

“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 reference 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.”