(CNSNews.com) – At least two people were reportedly killed by Iranian regime forces after protests erupted in the small southwestern city of Kazeroon on Wednesday, the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations across the country since late last year.
For weeks, residents of Kazeroon (also spelled Kazerun, Kazeroun) have been protesting against plans to change the city’s boundaries – a move they say is designed to benefit a member of parliament who comes from the area.
The protests have witnessed slogans going beyond just the local issue, however. According to media accounts, demonstrators have been chanting that while the government points to the United States as the enemy, “our enemy is right here.”
According to the exiled Iranian opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)/People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (MEK), Wednesday’s protest near the governorate offices in the city was followed by dozens of arrests.
Hundreds of people then gathered near the Ministry of Intelligence and Security offices calling for the protesters to be released, and regime forces first used teargas in an unsuccessful bid to disperse them, it said.
“Then, the regime forces directly opened fire to the people,” NCRI said. “In the course of these clashes, at least two young people were killed and many were wounded and arrested.”
It said angry protestors then torched the police station, and clashes in the streets continued until midnight.
Video clips posted on social media showed scenes from the earlier protests, with large numbers of women visible in the crowd. Also posted were photos showing bloodied protestors.
The NCRI saluted the protestors and called on all Iranians, especially young people in surrounding cities, to “support the uprising.”
Since late December, protests originally sparked by economic hardship have been reported in hundreds of cities and towns across Iran.
A crackdown by the regime in the early days of the protests left at least 23 Iranians dead and almost 4,000 were detained.
Protestors have also highlighted government corruption, mismanagement and repression. Slogans featuring in some of the demonstrations have included “death to Khamenei” and “death to the dictator.”
“The anti-regime protests that began in January have continued in different parts of the country ever since,” Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the MEK, said early Thursday.
“And it is now abundantly clear that the Iranian people, especially the youth, will not relent until they achieve their goal, which is the overthrow of the clerical regime in its entirety. The mullahs are more vulnerable than ever before and the regime change is very much within reach.”
When President Trump announced this month that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, a White House factsheet on the move listed among the president’s priorities the need for Iran to “[s]top its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime’s crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens.”
In his own remarks that day, Trump declared that, “it has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world. But the future of Iran belongs to its people.”