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An Eyewitness Describes How Protests Started Near Isfahan

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While anti-Islamic Republic protests are going on in different cities in Iran, an eyewitness has disclosed that, for the first time, women spearheaded the demonstrations in city of Shahin Shahr, 24km (15 miles) north of Isfahan, the capital of a province with the same name, in central Iran.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda’s Mahtab Vahidi Rad, the witness, introduced briefly as Amin for security reasons, said, “Unrest in Shahin Shahr began on Thursday morning (August 2) when a limited crowd of people, composed mainly of women, nearly fifty ladies, started chanting completely peaceful slogans protesting economic hardship.”

The protests, according to Amin lasted for only 10-15 minutes and the crowd dispersed; but the members of Special Unit, (basijees, militia forces affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) gradually appeared all over the city.

“People were coming and going peacefully, as usual, when they saw themselves surrounded by the Special Unit forces who were riding motorbikes, carrying guns,” Amin noted, adding, “Soon, a heavy security atmosphere shrouded the city and made people restless.”

Enraged by the presence of basijees circling around on motorbikes, Amin said, “People became nervous and agitated. Shahin Shahr had turned into a city occupied by armed basijees who were riding motorbikes with two riders.”

The militia’s bikes, Amin insisted, “made a horrifying noise. Nevertheless, the bikers started to throw firecrackers on the ground to create an atmosphere of fear and terror.”

On Thursday evening, the first signs of unrest appeared among the citizens of Shahin Shahr.

Unhappy, and rather scared at the same time, Amin explained, “People started to hold limited gatherings. There were small assemblies here and there. The rallies were not concentrated in one single location; twenty people at the top of one street, fifty others at another spot. All drivers started blowing their car horns.”

Assemblies, sadly, were not orchestrated and uniformed, Amin admitted, adding, “The bikers, riding in twos, started shooting paintballs at people, regardless of their age or sex. Old women, old men and children were all a target for the bike-riding forces. Many bullets hit the eyes or faces of the people. Our only response was to hide our head and cover our eyes to avoid the barrage of bullets.”

Responding to the attacks, people started chanting slogans, particularly against the Islamic republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Toop, tank, feshfesheh, akhound bayad gom besheh!”, (a rhymed slogan, roughly meaning “Canons, tanks, at any cost, the clergy should get lost!”, people chanted.

Gradually, the slogans turned more political rather than economic.

Amin, who was injured in the right arm and slightly in the back of his left leg stressed that people never tried to set fire on public property. He was referring to a case in Eshtehard, a city near the capital, Tehran, , where the officials have claimed that protesters tried to set a seminary on fire.

“People only set fire on garbage cans to neutralize the effects of tear gas canisters shot at them,” Amin testified.

Although Amin admitted that he had not personally seen anybody arrested during the protests, he cited his friends as saying that several people were detained and taken away in Shahin Shahr.