Protests against the 300% increase in gas prices in Behbahan started same as other cities on Friday, November 15th, 2019, and intensified in the following days.
During the protests, 15 people were reported dead and dozens wounded and large number of people have been arrested.
One of Behbahan’s residence tells the Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners: “The funeral for 12 people was held on Tuesday, November 19th, 2019, and their families are grieving the loss of their loved ones.”
In Behbahan, the city’s entrances were first blocked by residence, and in the city, they peacefully closed the main street by sitting on the road.
This residence of Behbahan, who did not want to be named, told the Campaign: “At first protests started in the area with the blocking of the Ahwaz-Omidieh road, but for Behbahan, the city has a main street starting from Bank Melli Square and continues to Javanmardi Square, that is the main area of the city. People were sitting on the street on Friday, November 19th, 2019, protesting peacefully, but security and police forces had violently treated them and attacked this peaceful gathering.”
“Some people were just sitting or standing chanting slogans like ‘No Gaza, no Lebanon, my life for Iran’,” the source added. “But the important point is that the security forces have begun the violence. People of Behbahan are a very calm, respectful and cautious people. But as soon as the police attacked the crowd, things changed, and the atmosphere became tense.”
“As the situation unfolded, protests intensified around the bank Melli and Javanmardi squares.”
For the first few days, security forces were virtually unable to control and destroy the protests, so a large number of auxiliary forces from Khorramabad arrived in the city on Monday, November 18th, 2019.
According to him, “in Behbahan most of the population lives in two sectors. Some of them are Fars and some are Lors from Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad. On the first night, on Friday night (the first day of the protests), Ehsan Abdullah Nejad was killed by direct firing on the neck and 3 others Lories also were killed. In the following days, many were killed and injured. “
The source said he is confident of killing 12 of his compatriots, but added that the number can be 15 or even higher.
On Tuesday, November 19th, 2019, the burial service for 12 people was held in Behbahan. Families were forced to pledged to mourn in silence and not to do interviews with media.
Among those killed is a 12-year-old teenager, most of whom are young.
He continues: “Snipers were shooting at people from a multi-story building in front of the Bank Melli Square (Former asset management building), reporting dozens of witnesses, but most of those killed were shot in the head or neck and they seem to have a command to kill, otherwise who in the world, shoots their citizens like this.”
According to this Behbahan’s residence: “One of these snipers is a man named Ahmadifar who was from the Basij forces. Once he was identified by the people, he had to flee the city shortly after with several bodyguards and his family. I don’t know for sure if he was a sniper, but I’m sure that he run out of town.”
“Eyewitnesses have reported that all gas stations and most banks were set on fire throughout the city, but there is disagreement among residences about who is responsible for the fires. There are disagreement and doubt about the large-scale, four-story bank and how the fire spreads through the window and inside the bank to the whole building is a bit skeptical. Because the Iranian government has no good track record of destroying people’s property, most people assume that this is done by security forces or plainclothes personnel.”
“The issue now is that some of the wounded are at risk because they did not go to the hospital after being shot for fear of being arrested,” he added. “But let me also say that hospital staff were cooperated with the injured after treating the wounded. They helped them to scape or to not being identified and that’s why one of the hospital officials was arrested.”
The city is now in a state of terror and fear due to the high volume of Special Forces and virtually there is no way to continue the protest. The Special Forces and counterinsurgency forces are stationed all over the city and the number of detainees over the course of several days is so high that it is virtually impossible to provide statistics.
The names of some of Behbahan that were killed are: (The identities of some of those not confirmed by the campaign are still under investigation)
Mohammad Hossein Ghanevati
Ehsan Abdullah Nejad
Tadin (first name unknown)
Ali (last name unknown)
In the last hours of Thursday, November 14th, 2019, the government without prior notice announced that the price for gasoline ration had risen to 1500 Tomans and price for open market 3000 Tomans. The same night, videos of several cities, such as Isfahan and Ahwaz, were released that showed people protesting the 300% price increases. Security forces, counter-insurgency police and law enforcement have also been deployed nationwide to counter possible protests.
But the protests spread quickly the following night from Friday, November 15th, 2019.
People who have objected to rising gasoline prices have come out to the streets with major livelihood slogans, but the slogans have also ranged from “cannon, Tank, firework, mullahs must be gone”, “death to dictator” and “death to Khamenei”.
Hundreds have been reported killed and injured across the country at this moment. Amnesty International has so far claimed the death toll of 115, but campaign research show that the death toll is far higher. Some sources have said that up to 250 people have been killed and thousands have been arrested and many families have no information about the situation of their relatives.
Iranian authorities have suspended its citizens’ access to the internet since Saturday, November 16th, 2019, as protests intensified, but it has been reported that since Sunday, November 24th, 2019, internet for the most cities in the country have returned to normal.
Oil revenues in Iran have fallen sharply in recent years due to the increase in US sanctions, and rising gasoline prices in the current situation, can have a negative impact on people’s livelihoods.
Some European and American countries say that Iran spends its oil revenue on other countries and spends its wealth on terrorism and destabilization in the Middle East instead of on the people of own country.