In pictures circulated on social media, a wounded man lies on a street in Javanrud, Iranian Kurdistan, while bullets blow their whistle. The repression intensified over the weekend and Monday 21 November in northwest Iran, the Kurdish-populated region from which Mohsa Amini hails. Iranian security forces fired live ammunition at residents, killing 13 people within 24 hours, according to the Norway-based Iranian Kurdish rights group Hengaw, which has documented several videos shared on social networks. Among them is a 16-year-old boy.
The demonstrations have intensified recently in Iranian Kurdistan, especially on the occasion of the funerals of those killed by the security forces during the marches (more than 300 across the country since September). Then tanks and helicopters were sent by the Ministry of the Interior. “We note the utter failure of any repressive approach, because repression – and the deaths it causes – tends to boost the number and determination of protesters. People are no longer afraid, Thierry Covel, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations and author of “Iran, a Moving Power” (Errols Edition, 2022), analyzes this.
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Indeed, the funerals of the victims sometimes mimic political events, gathering hundreds of people chanting anti-authority slogans. “Mom, don’t cry, we will take revenge”People sing in Kurdish during a funeral, according to photos released by Iran’s Human Rights Organization (IHR). “Now one of the protesters’ slogans is to say that a regime that kills its own children cannot be trusted,” he said. He points to Thierry Covel, who emphasizes the unprecedented counter-productivity of repression.
“the enemy within”
How can this intensification of repression in Kurdistan be explained? The regime may, of course, want to set an example to discourage protesters across the country. “The authorities also feel that if they lose control of these areas, the consequences will be very serious for the Islamic Republic,” Exhibits Thierry Covel.
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Moreover, it seems that the Kurds, who are spread over four states, are a perfect scapegoat for an authority that insists on saying that the demonstrations will be controlled from the outside. It is also no small feat that on Monday Iran bombed Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan, killing a fighter from this dissident faction that Tehran accuses of fueling the demonstrations. But this discourse of the “enemy within” is hard to grasp, explains Thierry Covel, particularly because the area has been a hotbed of protest from the start.
In the face of a rhetoric that presents them as separatists, the Kurdish demonstrators are very keen to highlight the unitary and national side of the democratic demands. And the Iranian people are not deceived, they see that the regime is lying. »
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Twitter “Very concerned that the Iranian authorities are escalating violence against protesters”. We continue to hold those involved accountable, and support the Iranian people.he added.