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Heavy Presence of Security Forces In Iranian Cities To Prevent Protests

Heavy security forces presence in Tehran on Dec 16, 2019

Since Wednesday evening social media users in Iran have posted videos of the heavy presence of security forces and riot police in many cities and townships in anticipation of a new round of protests.

Videos posted on social media show heavy presence of security forces and riot police in full gear in Tehran and the townships around the capital such as Eslamshahr where November protests were particularly bloody.

In the videos,

the regime forces are seen in main city squares or manoeuvring in groups on bikes with black flags.

Iran activists and protesters declared December 26, which coincides with the 40th day of the killing of Pouya Bakhtiari, a young protester slain on November 16 and many others across the country, as a day to commemorate the victims of the November protests across Iran.

The regime fears any public memorial for the protesters can spur a new round of protests and has made full preparations and taken measures such as intimidating the families of the victims and arresting them, including the family of Pouya Bakhtiari.

Thanks to his outspoken and brave family the 27-year-old Pouya has turned into an icon of the November protests. His parents and several of his relatives including an 11-year-old cousin were arrested on December 24 for refusing to accept the demands of the security officials not to hold a public 40th day memorial for Pouya at his graveside.

The regime has also prepared for shutting down the Internet as it did in November, if necessary. According to social media reports the Internet has not been shut down but there are serious mobile Internet disruptions in several cities including Mashhad.

Netblocks on Wednesday morning reported a significant drop in Internet accessibility in Iran which activists say is in preparation for preventing protests from happening today.

In an interview with France 24 yesterday Abbasali Kadkhodai, a hardliner politician and spokesman of the Guardian Council, said the Internet is like a freeway. "What is the first thing that you will do if terrorists attempt to use it for terrorist action? Undoubtedly you will block it."

Social media users have also reported that the pro-regime users and the Revolutionary Guards' Cyber Army are using the same or similar hashtags as those used by the dissidents to rally people for protests today to cause confusion and distraction in an organized way.

In a degrading tone today the Cultural Deputy of the Revolutionary Guards said the urban poor who were the driving force of the November protests in many areas are "illiterate and corrupted by the social media".

He also alleged that the West is using the urban poor to overthrow the Islamic Republic.