A violent protest in the city of Kazeroun in southwestern Iran has left at least one person dead and six others injured, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on May 17. Social media have been reporting the same since late May 16.
Fars also said a police station was set on fire by the protesters.
According to the Fars report, a "small number" of protesters gathered in Kazeroun, some 900 kilometers south of Tehran, on May 16 in the evening.
Fars news agency, close to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), reported that the demonstration was organized on the social networking platform Telegram.
Peaceful protests have been taking place for weeks in Kazeroun against a decision of the local administration to separate some districts of the city and merge them into a new town.
Etemad Online, a news website linked to reformist daily newspaper Etemad wrote that Hossein Rezazadeh a local MP who has tabled the motion for new demarcation of Kazeroun wants to promote his own hometown Qaemieh, to a “city”.
The new demarcation plan separates the two small towns of Chenarshahijan and Qaemiehto to set up a new city that would be called Kouhchenar.
Etemad Onlline quoted unconfirmed reports saying that one demonstrator was killed and six others injured, two of them seriously during the Wednesday clashes in Kazeroun.
Following previous protests, authorities had pledged the division of the districts would not take place.
An eyewitness told the BBC that “several people” had been detained at an afternoon protest and that people had gathered in front of a police station to call for the release of the protesters.
“Shots fired by the police made the atmosphere tense. Protesters entered the police station and set it on fire, “ the eyewitness was quoted as saying by the BBC.
The New York Center for Human Rights In Iran quoted local sources as saying that at least three people were killed. Several amateur videos said to be from the protest were making the rounds on social media.
In one video posted online, protesters appeared to carry an injured man. In another, protesters chanted slogans against Iran’s state policies.
In one video, some said that the United States was not Iran’s real enemy as claimed by Iranian leaders.
“Our enemy is right here. They’re wrong to say it’s America,” they chanted.
Pictures and videos posted on social media show demonstrators in front of a police headquarters.
The demonstrations soon turned violent as police opened fire on demonstrators.
In previous demonstrations, people have been chanting slogans against state officials and the state-run TV.
One of their most elaborate slogans was “Our enemy is here. But they always say It’s America.”
Meanwhile the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reported that security forces have arrested several demonstrators Wednesday night.
The city of Kazeroun has a population of almost 150,000 people and is home to the Qashqai tribe, some of whom traditionally carry hunting guns.
Kazeroun is a demographically volatile area because of its cultural and ethnic milieu, which is a mixture of a new generation of city dwellers and nomadic tribes who have settled around small towns in the hope of having better access to medical and education services.