11 die in northwest Iran clashes    Wed. 3 Aug 2005


Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 03 – Heavy clashes which broke out between protesters and State Security Forces on Wednesday in the Kurdish town of Saqqez, northwest Iran, have claimed 11 lives, according to Kurdish sources.

Witnesses reported that agents of the SSF fired lethal rounds on protestors from helicopters in the air.

Kurdish groups have announced the names of four of the dead as Mohammad Shariati, head of a local school; Farzad Mohammadi, Student; Abbass Ramazanzadeh, 55 years old, and Shakeri.

Iran’s state-run media and officials have confirmed extensive clashes in the western regions of the country. The state-run news agency ILNA reported on Wednesday that provincial governors of Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan, deputy chiefs of security in the Interior and Intelligence Ministries, deputy commander of Iran’s State Security Forces, and Majlis deputies from the area met to discuss ways of dealing with the worsening situation.

Kazem Jalali, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told ILNA that participants in the meeting had determined that there should be “a higher level of security” imposed on the area to prevent unrest in Oshnavieh and Mahabad from spreading to other areas.

The state-owned Sharq newspaper reported on Wednesday that a group of Majlis deputies from
Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan provinces had demanded that the Interior Minister “adopt measures to prevent the killing of innocent people in Mahabad, Sardasht and Piranshahr”. Their letter was read out during the Majlis session.

Anti-government protesters in Saqqez set fire to the town’s principal prayer hall and vehicles belonging to the police on Wednesday morning. Various government buildings including the governor’s office were also attacked and the commander of State Security Forces was beaten by protestors. A government agency, Bonyad Panzdah Khordad, was completely ransacked.

Witnesses reported that women took part in great numbers during today’s clashes with the security forces. One witness described how several women attacked policemen who had detained a teenage boy and freed him.

The latest clashes come in the wake of a series of protests that have swept Kurdish towns and cities in
Iran for the past weeks. Dozens of protesters have been injured or arrested by government troops in several towns.