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Police Chief Denies Firing Shotgun Pellets At Protesting Villagers In Iran


Mostazafan Foundation has claim to the lands of Abolfazl village in Khuzestan Province

The Police Commander of Ahwaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan Province, on Wednesday denied reports and evidence that security forces had fired non-lethal pellets at protesting villagers and used tear gas in a deprived village.

According to Ahwaz Human Rights Organization the villagers wounded by the security forces were protesting the destruction of their homes and confiscation of their lands by a rich government-backed outfit, the Mostazafan Foundation (Foundation for the Oppressed).

The rights group on Thursday published videos on social media that show none-lethal pellet wounds on the bodies of several of the residents in Abolfazl, a village of 300 families, near Ahwaz on Wednesday.

The police chief Mohsen Dalvand said that the villagers had blocked access to the lands "owned by Mostazafan Foundation and threw stones at municipality agents" and the security forces had to confront them to "prevent the continuation of the standoff".

He claimed that the videos shared by the rights organization were "fabricated by opportunists" and were meant to create a negative atmosphere about the incident on social media.

Videos in the tweet show clashes between villagers and security forces and pellet wounds.

Dalvand also threatened those who share the videos and images from the clash in Abolfazl with persecution "for disturbance of public calm and security and causing worries among the public".

The residents of the village have a deed that proves they have been living there for forty years but the Foundation claims ownership of the lands of the village and has prevented the registration of their village and establishment of government services and amenities in the village.

On Wednesday the Governor and Prosecutor-General of Ahwaz went to the village along with municipality agents and security forces to enforce a court order for confiscation of the lands and their return to the foundation.

The Mostazafan Foundation is a multi-billion financial conglomerate operating under the aegis of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

During the past four decades, the foundation confiscated many homes, mansions, factories, firms, lands, and financial institutions that belonged to citizens, based on various excuses.

The foundation's mission is to help the needy, but like many other Islamic Republic entities it has become a major player in business. To what extent it in fact helps the poor is questionable. Some say that the foundation is Mr. Khamenei’s wealth-management outfit.

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