By Editors of The Free Iran Herald
December 26th marked the 40th day since the beginning of the most recent wave of anti-Khomeinist regime protests, and as the 40th day after a person’s death is observed as a day of mourning, the families of those who were killed in November called on Iranians to come out and publicly show their shared grief for those who lost their lives.
The regime acted pre-emptively and re-imposed an Internet blockage on the 25th. Outside observers reported that Internet access in Iran had decline to only 5% of normal availability.
Update: Mobile internet connectivity has fallen further in #Iran amid reports of security reinforcement; real-time network data show connectivity at 5% of ordinary levels on specified networks after four distinct cuts; incident ongoing 📉#Internet4Iran— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) December 26, 2019
Armored and motorized units of the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Basij paramilitary wing were also deployed in massive numbers across almost every Iranian municipality on the 25th. As described by Radio Farda, the Persian language branch of VOA’s RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, the Khomeinist regime’s special units have not left the streets of Iran for the last 3 years and now many cities, such as Ahvaz and Sari, are said to be under total martial law.
In this climate of fear, thus, there was no resumption of a large-scale revolt, as the regime had worried might happen. However, there were Iranians who braved the IRGC threat to gather together, and they were met with the typical severe response.
Among the biggest assemblages was one at the grave of Pouya Bakhtiari in Karaj. Bakhtiari, a 24-year-old man killed by the IRGC during a protest as he stood next to his mother and sister, has become an iconic figure to many Iranians. His parents’ bold anti-regime comments have also won them much admiration from the people. A huge crowd formed at Karaj’s Behesht’e Sakineh cemetery, which included celebrities such as renowned film director Jafar Panahi, and began shouting chants calling regime leader Ali Khamenei a murderer. The security forces quickly intervened, assaulted the people, and arrested hundreds, including Bakhtiari’s parents.
Hundreds of mourners attending memorial services for Pouya Bakhtiari & other murdered victims of last month’s peaceful demonstrations were arrested by regime’s secret service. The Islamic regime initiated #IranMartialLaw yesterday. pic.twitter.com/4dUobG4Kat
— Mehdi Mirghaderi 👑 (@mobarez_nastooh) December 26, 2019
Pouya Bakhtiari’s grandmother says many #Iranians tried to attend her grandson’s remembrance at the cemetery but were beaten and arrested by the regime. Pouya’s parents, Nahid and Manouchehr, remain in jail. pic.twitter.com/ZtDbNLwCHd
— Alireza Nader (@AlirezaNader) December 26, 2019
A number of other gatherings at gravesites occurred, mostly in small villages where the IRGC presence was limited. Several were held, though, in cities, where clashes occurred, and multiple arrests were made.
Video recorded 2 hours ago shows thousands of family members of murdered protesters & people of #Isfahan in the city’s main graveyard protesting against #Iran‘s Islamic Regime over massacre of 1,500 protesters during recent #IranProtests. Security forces are now suppressing them. pic.twitter.com/r2w1rH5dRH— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) December 26, 2019
The scale of what took place in November is still being revealed. A report from Reuters on December 23rd cited three officials from Tehran’s Interior Ministry as stating that 1,500 Iranians, including 400 women and 17 children, were killed by regime forces in November. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated this figure when he called out the regime’s continuing repression on the 27th.
The Iranian people have the right to mourn 1,500 victims slaughtered by @khamenei_irduring #IranProtests. The regime fears its own citizens, and has once again resorted to violence and shutting down the internet.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 27, 2019
On Thursday, December 19th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an impassioned speech before a crowd of Iranian-American diaspora activists, who had been invited to the State Department’s headquarters at Foggy Bottom, entitled “Human Rights and the Iranian Regime.”
Pompeo said, in this speech, what Iranians have waited for four decades to hear: “The United States will stand and has stood under President Trump with the Iranian people…..Iran’s human rights violations are worse than unacceptable. They’re evil, and they’re wrong.”
For perhaps the first time in the history of the US’s relationship with the Khomeinist regime, Pompeo’s speech signaled that America, under the Trump Administration, is finally going to stand up for the Iranian people’s human rights as a matter of policy. “The Iranian people have a steadfast friend and they are good people and they have spirit. The friend is a unique North Star for hope for all those oppressed and their voice, their writings, their faith, and their ideals.”
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