Iranian Security Forces Tear-Gas Protesters After Building Collapse

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda


Security forces fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse protesters in the southwestern city of Abadan, the capital of the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan, where the collapse of a high-rise building earlier this week killed 28 people, local media reported on May 28.

The collapse of a large section of the 10-story Metropol building, which was under construction, was one of Iran's deadliest disasters in years.

Protesters gathered on May 27 for the third consecutive night in Abadan and other cities of the province, which borders Iraq, local media reported.

Security forces in Abadan "used tear gas and shot in the air near the collapse site" to disperse hundreds of protesters who were mourning the lives lost and demanding justice for the perpetrators of the incident, Fars news agency said.

Protesters chanted "Death to incompetent officials" and "Incompetent officials must be executed," Fars reported.In the city of Bandar-e Mahshahr, protesters chanted while banging on traditional drums and hitting cymbals, it added.

Protests also took place in the central Iranian cities of Isfahan, Yazd, and Shahin Shahr, where participants expressed sympathy with the victims of the tragedy.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who is in Abadan, said on May 28 two more bodies had been recovered and sent for identification, raising the death toll to 28, according to state news agency IRNA.

Khuzestan's provincial judiciary said on May 28 that 13 people have been arrested in connection to the incident, including the current mayor and two former mayors, IRNA said.

In a statement posted on his official website on May 26, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for those responsible to be prosecuted and punished.

But amateur videos posted online also showed demonstrators chanting slogans against Khamenei, with some saying, “We don’t want an incompetent leader.”

The protests came amid reports of Internet disruptions with the web monitoring group Netblocks confirming “a disruption of Internet connectivity across Iran.”

First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber told state television that "widespread corruption existed between the contractor, the builder, the supervisor, and the licensing system."

With reporting by AFP