The state security forces have paraded 34 young men in the streets to punish them for attending the Iranian fire festival which was heled on March 16, the state-run IRNA news agency reported today.
The public degradation was carried out in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad with the presence of Judge Seyed Hadi Shariatyar, Deputy of Crime Prevention of the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Mashhad.
On the eve of the last Wednesday of the Persian year Iranians gather to light bonfires in the streets and jump over the flames to celebrate the Iranian fire festival. Singing, dancing and eating together are also part of this fire festival, known as Chaharshanbe Suri.
But for many Iranians, this Persian event goes far beyond being just a cultural celebration. Especially for the young, it provides an opportunity to vent hatred at the regime.
The clerical regime has stood firm in opposing such events through the past years.
Particularly in the last few years, the Iranian fire festival Chaharshanbe Suri has been used as an excuse for people to pour onto the streets to voice their dissent amid the dire economic situation.
Humiliating people by parading them around cities and towns is a known practice of Security Force in Iran. This contradicts all human rights conventions, and violates human dignity.
Public displays of degradation
Iran’s state media have published videos and reports of the public degradation of locals who were charged with “public thuggish behavior” in the past months. The videos were met with severe criticism by Iranians on social media and many people compared the treatment of the detainees with that of ISIS.
The videos showed the men being paraded in police trucks, while masked security forces slap and manhandle them, forcing them to “repent” in public.
Suppressing “thugs” to prevent protests
The regime has carried out various “plans” to deal with what they call “thugs, hooligans and troublemakers” in the past decades. Though the official motive behind the crackdown is crime prevention, these measures are politically motivated and designed to intimidate and subdue Iranians to prevent protests against the regime’s absolute rule.
According to state-media reports published in the 1990s, following major protests in the northeastern city of Mashhad and Tehran’s Eslamshahr, the regime’s security institutions reached the conclusion that “thugs” were important players in protests.
An IRGC official also said that during nationwide protests in 2009, the regime “identified 5,000” people who took part in protests but “were not affiliated with any parties or political groups” and were “thugs and hooligans”.
“We controlled them in their homes. When there were calls for street protests, they were not allowed to leave their homes,” Hossein Hamedani who died in 2015 in Syria added.