The Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Basij forces are primarily responsible for this repression. Iran has several minority groups, the majority of which are concentrated in provinces near the country’s borders. Iranian Arabs live near the Iraqi border, Kurds in the northwest, known as Iranian Kurdistan, and Baluchis in the south-eastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan.
The regime has made it illegal for these ethnic groups’ children to be educated in their native languages and traditions. They face severe hardships, such as poverty and limited access to essential livelihood services. The regime is even denying them a safe place to live and raise their children.
Most ethnic groups’ home regions are currently dealing with catastrophic environmental situations. Among the shortages are high levels of air pollution and a lack of drinking water. Many people in these areas have been forced to leave their homes and migrate to other parts of the country due to dire circumstances.
These people face higher rates of incarceration and execution, and the regime frequently represses them on the grounds that they are separatists.
The IRGC has publicly referred to arrested minorities in Sistan and Baluchestan as “unauthorized foreigners” because they lack birth certificates, which has become a tool for harsher repression and discrimination.
This has been a long-standing issue in this province, and there has been much coverage of it in the regime’s media, causing extreme hardship for the people of this region.
On October 23, 2022, the state-run news agency ISNA reported that “statistics show that approximately 15 to 20% of children in this region do not have birth certificates.”
Over the last five months of nationwide protests, residents of Sistan and Baluchistan province have suffered the most killings and tortures. For a variety of reasons, including limited Internet access and threats to security agencies, news of murders, arrests, and torture of many Baluch citizens has not been reported in the media.
Zahedan has been the site of intense protests against the Iranian regime since the demonstrations began over 4 months ago. Jan 20 marks the largest protest in Zahedan, with tens of thousands of Iranians chanting anti-government slogans during Friday prayerpic.twitter.com/vLDaQrITwq
— Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) January 20, 2023
Following Tehran, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan, Sistan & Baluchistan have had the highest number of arrests and detentions since the protests began.
So far, the identities of 278 people arrested in Sistan and Baluchistan have been determined, with 47 being children under the age of 18, 20 being students, and 4 being civil activists.
Three of the 47 children arrested were discovered to be missing birth certificates. Because of the high number of people in this province who lack birth certificates, it has been extremely difficult to track the whereabouts of these detainees. Without a paper trail to trace these individuals’ identities, the regime is able to repress, torture, and execute the people of this region without being detected.