Influential Iranian politicians inside and outside the country have raised their voices against the violence of the security forces to suppress protesters in Khuzestan, where after weeks of water scarcity, people began rallies on July 15 to demand government action.
Iran’s former reformist President Mohammad Khatami said Monday that no political, security, military or law enforcement agency is allowed to confront protesters with rifles and bullets on the pretext of stopping the riots.
Khatami, who has been criticized for maintaining silence or making vague statements during and after previous protests, spoke up Monday after three young men were killed in four-day demonstrations in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province.
The exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi also tweeted and addressed the Iranian armed forces and the police. â€œI too once wore our country’s uniform to protect our nation from intruders. Now is the time to defend our people. You have no right to shoot defenseless Iranians. Rather, it is your responsibility to defend our defenseless compatriots! “
As a young man before the 1979 revolution, Reza Pahlavi was trained as a fighter pilot in both Iran and the United States and wore the uniform of the Iranian Air Force.
The exiled prince has for the past five days raised his voice in defense of the Khuzestan people and protesters, blaming the Islamic Republic for turning a rich country of hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth into arid ground.
Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has published a video in which he holds the secret services responsible for violence against unarmed demonstrators. He said that any peaceful movement, demand or protest by the population turns into violence through conspiracies by the security forces that create incidents and then open fire on the people. He added that “the group of corrupt intelligence agencies” is trying to portray protests as conspiracies by foreign powers or “anti-revolutionary” groups. In this way they create a pretext to oppress the people and close all avenues to peaceful demands.
Since 2017, Ahmadinejad has emerged as a critic of the structures of the Islamic Republic, including the implicit criticism of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He boycotted the presidential election on June 18 when an election guard refused to run.
There are new reports from Monday evening that people in part of Chuzestan’s capital, Ahvaz, continued protests against water shortages for a fifth night and that special police units and Revolutionary Guards were sent to the area to end the protest.