Iran’s Kurdish city under de facto martial law    Thu. 21 Jul 2005


Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 21 – The Kurdish city of Mahabad, north-west Iran, was brought under de facto martial law as the paramilitary police, the Revolutionary Guards, and plainclothes agents of the secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, moved in to take control of the city after a week of unrest and deadly clashes between residents and local security forces.

The move came after extra police reinforcements brought in from neighbouring towns to put down the ongoing anti-government protests failed to restore calm in the city.

Anti-government demonstrations and unrest in the mainly Kurdish cities and towns in western
Iran have alarmed the authorities. Protests and clashes have been reported in Bonab, Sanandaj, Orumieh, Naqadeh, and Miandoab.

In Mahabad, the city’s main stadium, the local radio and television headquarters, and the Central Post Office have been commandeered as temporary bases for security forces and troops.

Heavy police presence has been reported at every major junction, square, and highway in and around Mahabad. A large number of policemen and undercover agents have been patrolling the area around
Heyvanat Square, where much of the hit-and-run clashes took place.

Many of those arrested by security agents were being taken to the nearby city of
Orumieh for interrogation, according to Mahabad residents.

A demonstration started on Wednesday evening in the nearby town of
Piranshahr in support of “the resistance by the people of Mahabad”. People there chanted slogans against the Iranian regime. The protest lasted for several hours and at least 10 people were arrested, eye-witnesses said.

The mass protests were sparked by the cold-blooded murder of a young Kurdish man, Shovan Qaderi, who had been involved in recent anti-government demonstrations in Mahabad. Security forces shot the unarmed political activist at point blank, tied his body to a Toyota jeep and dragged him in the streets “to teach a lesson” to the local people.

Since then, protests have been continuing every day. At least one local police commander was killed and several hundred people have been arrested during the numerous hit-and-run clashes and house-to-house raids.

Seyyed Maarouf Samadi, the governor of Mahabad, said on Wednesday that reinforcements had been brought in to help “in the interrogation of suspects”. He added that intelligence obtained by the agents would be transmitted to their headquarters in
Tehran for evaluation.