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Activists claim killings by Iran’s police in protest of repression

Iranian opposition and human rights activists said on Thursday that security forces had shot dead several people the night before in a southern city where protesters were protesting a plan to divide their municipality.

Opposition activists said the killings in Kazerun happened after hundreds of people organized a peaceful protest in the central square of the city earlier that day.

The Iranian state news agency ISNA quoted the governor of Fars province, where Kazerun is located, saying one person had died in a violent clash between security forces and protesters. Iranian state media said some of the protesters had set fire to a police station, prompting officers to shoot.

CLOCK: The video of the member of the audience, sent to VOA Persian, shows a man wounded in a clash with the forces in Kazerun.

In the ISNA report, provincial governor Esmail Tabadar said clashes continued sporadically in Kazerun on Thursday, but the situation was "under control."

CLOCK: Video from the audience member, sent to Persian VOA, shows confrontations with security forces continuing in Kazerun on Thursday.

Shared video clips on social networks after the riots showed burned vehicles and other debris in the streets.

CLOCK: video of the audience member, sent to VOA Persian, shows the violence sequel on Thursday in Kazerun.

Kazerun residents joined the march on Wednesday to protest renewed talks about a government plan to turn two of its peripheral areas into a new city that fear would steal government funds. The Iranian lawmaker representing Kazerun, who lives in one of the peripheral areas, has urged Iran's Interior Ministry to create the new city. But there has been no news about when the Iranian Cabinet will decide on the matter.

Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, based in the United States, said that Tehran has "spilled Iranian blood again" through its actions in Kazerun. In a Thursday tweet Pahlavi said that his heart "beats for the brave and noble people of this city", to whom he attributed "firm resolve" and "remarkable courage" in pursuit of freedom and democracy in Iran.

The protests began in December

Iranian security forces have killed several Iranians in violent repression of some of the anti-government protests that have swept the country since last December. Iranian authorities said at least 20 people had died in their crackdown during the initial week of protests across the country, which lasted until early January. Iran attributed that violence to rioters incited by their foreign enemies without providing evidence.

Israeli retired lieutenant-colonel Michael Segall, an Iranian analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told VOA Persian that his sources said that some of the protesters on Wednesday were armed and some of the Iranian security forces they were confronted with civilian clothes.

"The appearance of civilian security personnel is significant," Segall said. "Usually, Iranian leaders use them when a situation is out of control or when they want to suppress an event quickly, as they did with the December-January protests."

Kazerun residents told VOA Persian that on Friday appointed by the city government Prayer leader Mohammad Khorsand had unleashed the protest by speaking in favor of the city's division plan in Friday prayers. Residents demonstrated against the plan last month but canceled the protests after authorities promised not to proceed.

Legislative proposal

Kazerun lawmaker Hossein Rezazadeh has proposed demolishing parts of the peripheral districts north of the city of Nowdan and Qaemiyeh in a new city called Kuh-e-Chinar. Many residents oppose the plan, fearing the city will withdraw funds from the Kazerun government and create a new layer of corrupt bureaucracy in the area.

In Thursday's edition of the direct calling program of VOA Persian Straight Talk Most people who called from inside Iran said they believed that the Iranian government was not reporting the death toll for the violent repression in Kazerun. Some callers also reported cuts on the Internet and telephone connections in the city.

A person who called Mohammed from the neighboring city of Shiraz said that the Iranian authorities could have peacefully resolved the complaints of Kazerun residents before the protest increased. [19659002"ThegovernmentwantstouseforcetofixthingsintheplaceofadisputewiththepopulationTherewasnotareasonforbloodshed"hesaid

Another person who identified himself as Ardeshir said the protesters were not only upset about the proposed division of the city.

"Part of their dissatisfaction is related to other things, such as the poor state of the economy," said the caller.

This report was produced in collaboration with the Persian VOA service.


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