A video surfacing on social media appears to show protesters in Iran apprehending an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) member and taking his pants off amid increasingly violent protests against the regime.
The video, published by Iranian analyst Raman Ghavami on Twitter, reportedly originated in Kermanshah, a city with a large Kurdish population. The UK Telegraph, which also published the video, reported that the soldier in question was part of the Basij militia wing of the IRGC. The Basij began as an independent paramilitary but was merged with the IRGC in the 1980s and now consists of volunteer fighters.
“They got a Basij, hold him!” one man says as demonstrators seize the militiaman’s baton, before knocking him to the ground and removing his trousers.
“About one hour ago protesters were attacked by Basij (IRGC) forces in #Kermanshah but people resisted, took one hostage, took his trousers and let him go,” Ghavami wrote. “This is going to be a tactic against IRGC forces all over the country when protesters get attacked.”
#Update102– An hour ago protesters were attacked by Basij(IRGC) Forces in #Kermanshah but people resisted, took one hostage, took his trousers off and let him go.
This is going to be a tactic against IRGC Forces all over the country when protesters get attacked.#IranProtests pic.twitter.com/VmbtDcm5l0
— Raman Ghavami (@Raman_Ghavami) December 31, 2017
Speaking to the Telegraph, Ghavami argued that the move was meant to “show that [the protesters] are peaceful but that they are not weak and they are not afraid.”
Protesters have increasingly been met with state-sponsored violence as people take to the streets to voice their opposition to the country’s governing Islamist dictatorship and its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The violent demonstrations, which began last Thursday initially as a response to rising food prices, have become the largest protests in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election. The number of people killed has now risen to at least 21 amid further clashes with security forces on Monday night.
“Death to the Dictator,” “Death to Rouhani,” “Don’t be afraid, we are all united,” and “Political prisoners should be freed” are a few of the chants used by the nation’s mostly secular youth, who are seen as a driving force behind the movement.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed the crisis on Iran’s “enemies,” without specifying which enemies are behind the protests.
“In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics, and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic,” Khamenei said at an event commemorating the Iran-Iraq war on Tuesday. He promised that he would elaborate on his statements “when the time is right.”
The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has warned that protesters could face sentences as severe as the death penalty when their cases come to trial.