Growing Protests in Sistan-Baluchistan Echoes Iran’s Cry for Freedom
Washington DC, February 27, 2021
Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) stands with the people of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran’s second largest province, and their call for social justice, freedom, and democracy.
In the last several days, the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) has killed at least 40 people including many in the cities of Saravan, Zahedan, Suran, Chabahar, Iranshahr, Khash, Shirabad, Sarjangal, and Bampur. United Nations Human Rights Chief Mrs. Michelle Bachelet called Iranian regime suppression of the Saravan uprising part of, “an apparently coordinated campaign,” “targeting minority groups since December, including in Sistan and Baluchestan, Khuzestan, and in the Kurdish provinces.” She added, “Mass arrests and enforced disappearances have been reported, as well as increasing numbers of executions, following deeply flawed processes.”
United States Department of State expressed deep concern about reports of, “internet outages and government violence against fuel carriers and protestors in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province.” It called upon the Iranian regime “to uphold its commitments to human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
The recent unrest erupted on February 22nd when Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) opened fire on hard working but impoverished workers, carrying fuel for a living. In response, protesters stormed local governor’s building and state security stations. On February 25th, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology began to block Internet access for the province to control the flow of information and clips from IRGC’s violence against the protesters. Despite the brutal crackdown, mass arrests and threats by the IRGC, the protests have continued and are gaining momentum. Nationwide reaction including solidarity messages from other provinces such as Esfahan and Fars are clear indications of the explosive situation inside Iran.
The call for social justice in Sistan and Balochistan province is part of the broader nationwide call for democracy and freedom seen in recent years across Iran. Encouraged by U.S. willingness to confront regime’s malign behavior, OIAC welcomes the State Department expression of deep concern about the regime’s violence in Southeast Iran, and urges the administration to also bolster congressional and U.N. calls for accountability and coordinate global efforts to launch investigations into the perpetual killings of the people in Iran. Increasing the cost of human rights violations on the regime is not only the right thing to do, but will serve as a valuable lever in the broader diplomatic effort to mitigate regime’s threats.