IRGC top commander threatens to "drown" protesters, says "time of tolerance over"

IRGC top commander threatens to "drown" protesters, says "time of tolerance over"
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Shop and business owners and workers in several towns of Kurdistan province have joined in a strike in protest against government's brutal crackdown on demonstrations.

Amid fierce government crackdown on protests in Iran's Kurdish-majority areas - also referred to as "Rojhelat" or East Kurdistan - shops and businesses across Kurdistan province have gone on general strike in protest on Thursday, Rudaw reported.

While there have been recent reports of fatal shootings by state forces in several cities including Mahabad, Javanrud, Piranshahr and Dehgolan, Norway-based Iran Human Rights said on Tuesday that 56 people were killed in Kurdish-majority areas in the last week alone.

The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) has taken over the local policing in many areas, and on Monday the IRGC troops killed at least six people and injured dozens in Javanrud, Rudaw said. It cited residents telling that the IRGC has erected checkpoints everywhere, totally militarizing the town.

The general strike on Thursday was joined by shop and business owners and workers in many towns, including Bukan, Saqez, Sanandaj, Mariwan, Qorveh, Kamyaran, and Piranshahr.

A video shared by Rudaw showed a town with all of shops shuttered, streets deserted.

The top commander of the IRGC Hosseini Salami said on Thursday that the time of tolerance with protesters is over and that the guards will "drown" anyone who violates the country’s national security.

Salami's threat on the day of the general strike followed killing of two members of the IRGC in the Kurdistan province. One was killed in the city of Marivan, and the other in Saqqez, independent news outlet Iran Wire said on Thursday citing human rights groups.

At least 416 people, including 51 children and 27 women, have been killed during the protests that started after young Kurdish woman Mahsa (Jina) Amini's death in police custody on 16 September, according to Iran Human Rights.

The number of Kurdish-speaking people in Iran is estimated to be around 10 million and they constitute about 12 percent of the total population.