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Iran Security Official Says 'Instigators Of Protests In Behbahan' Arrested

Protesters in the city of Behbahan in southern Iranian province of Khuzestan, July 16, 2020.

The Security Chief of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province on Sunday said all of the individuals that he called "instigators of the protest rally in Behbahan on July 16" have been arrested.

Speaking to the government news agency IRNA, Heydar Abbaszadeh said the protest rally was "a transgression". He claimed that "a handful" of people in Behbahan had rallied in a square in the city and protested "under the pretext of complaining about high prices" and chanted slogans "against the norms of the society", which in official jargon means demanding regime change.

Abbaszadeh did not announce any names and did not say how many people were detained.

Despite the claim that the protesters were only a few, Abbaszadeh said security forces and the Basij militia had quickly made it to the scene and managed to quell the protest in the "shortest possible time".

Protesters in Behbahan chanting "Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran".

To stop the flow of videos from the protest, the Internet was disrupted in the province on Thursday but the footage that made it to the social media showed hundreds of people rallying in various places in the city, particularly at the venue of last November’s protests, while the police attacked the crowd with tear gas.

The protesters chanted slogans against clerical rule and the Islamic Republic as well as the slogan, "Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran" which is very common in anti-government protests highlighting to the government's high spending to support their proxies in regional countries.

A day after the protest in Behbahan, the Police Chief of the city threatened a heavy-handed crackdown if the protests continued.

Behbahan was one of the first cities where security forces used overwhelming force to suppress protests in November 2019.

At least ten protesters were killed in the small city in November including the 27-year-old Farzad Ansarifar whose sister was arrested in the July 16 protest. According to Farzad's father, the young man was shot in the head from behind near their house.