Mass arrests in southwest Iran in wake of protests over HIV outbreak

Lordegan protests

Security forces in southwest Iran have made widespread arrests following large protests over the HIV infection of more than 300 villagers by a local health clinic.

The arrests in the village of Chenar Mahmoud in the town of Lordegan, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province, started on Tuesday, October 8, three days after hundreds of Iranians in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, took to the streets and clashed with riot police.

It is still not clear how many protesters were arrested but reports indicate that the numbers are high.

According to locals, security forces are using videos of the protests to identify and arrest protesters.

Based on the latest reports, the city has been under unofficial martial law since Sunday, October 6.

The authorities stationed main battle tanks at the city’s entrances and exits. Regime also launched numerous patrols across the city.

Several locals in the neighboring Monjar Mui village were also detained after they supported the residents of Lordegan. It is not clear where the detainees have been taken.

In further oppressive measures, the Iranian regime imposed an internet blackout on the people of Lordegan in their desperate effort to prevent news of the protests from reaching the outside world.

Mass protests erupted last Wednesday in Lordegan after at least 300 people, including children, were infected with HIV in the province by a medical assistant using a contaminated syringe.

People in the village of Chenar Mahmoud in the town of Lordegan, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari, maintain that their loved ones contracted HIV from contaminated needles used by the village’s health organization to test for diabetes two months ago.

When news first surfaced about the HIV outbreak, Iran’s Health Minister denied the villagers’ claims and blamed it on “addicts” and “unsuitable relationships” in the village.

State-run media echoed his remarks adding that only 28 people were infected.

“A limited number of ‘opportunists’ attempted to create disruption and sedition outside the Governor’s building, but failed,” the state-run Mehr news agency reported.

These comments infuriated Lordegan residents who took to the streets in the thousands.

Footages circulated on social media show protesters chanting anti-Islamic Republic slogans.

Denouncing the authorities’ support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas the protesters chanted “Nither Gaza, nor Lebanon, I sacrifice my life for Iran.”

Amateur videos showed injured and bloody protesters. Some were shot with pellet guns including a 15-year-old boy.

A young man identified as Saadatollah Mousavi was also shot and killed by riot police.

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