A court in the oil-rich Khuzestan Province in Iran has issued arrest warrants for five journalists and writers in the wake of widespread anti-government protests.
Their arrest warrant, a copy of which is in the possession of Radio Farda, shows the plaintiff is the local unit of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC).
Khuzestan, along with a few more regions, experienced the most intense protests following the sudden increase in the price of gasoline on November 15. Protests in several cities in the province continued for days and there were many casualties.
Amnesty International reported this week that 40 protesters were killed in Khuestan, as security forces used direct fire at them. In one city, Mahshahr there were unconfirmed citizen reports of tanks being deployed.
The five writers are accused of an array of political charges such as “membership in banned organizations, insulting and threatening the IRGC, propaganda against the regime, insulting the Supreme Leader, insulting religious sanctities and cooperation with an enemy state”.
Days before nationwide protests broke out, a popular ethnic-Arab poet death in hospital sparked protests in Ahvaz, Khuzestan's capital. Ethnic Arabs constitute a large part of the population in the region.
Iran’s oil reserves are concentrated in Khuzestan and locals have complained of lack of government attention to their province for years.