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.