The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has reported that thousands of ethnic Iranian Azeris have held two major anti-regime rallies. They took place on Tuesday in cities in north-west Iran in retaliation against the publication of “derogatory statements in the state-run media against Iran’s largest ethnic minority group”.
The NCRI say that the first rally started towards 7pm local time in the city of Tabriz, the provincial capital of Iran’s Eastern Azerbaijan Province. Thousands of people are said to have gathered in Darayi Street where they chanted slogans defending the rights of the Azeri community. They were also protesting against the “recent disrespect to Iranian Azeris by the mullahs’ regime in Iran”.
Many special anti-riot troops and water cannons were sent by the regime to disperse the protesters. According to eye-witnesses the anti-riot forces fired rubber bullets at the demonstrators, a number of whom were arrested.
In Orumieh (Urmia), the provincial capital of Iran’s Western Azerbaijan Province, it has been reported that hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the early evening. They rallied from Atai Street to Imam Khomeini Street, but anti-riot troops intervened where more arrests were made. These protests were sparked off following the 20th July edition of the state-run daily Tarhe-No (issue no 868) in which an insulting remark to ethnic Iranian Azeris was made.
The NCRI also said that students at the University of Orumieh started protesting on campus against the regime’s slander.
Shahin Gobadi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI said on Tuesday: “This is another sign of growing discontent in Iran which manifests itself in different forms and different places. The Iranian people use every possible opportunity to manifest their loath and hatred towards this regime which doubly suppresses ethnic and religious minorities.”