People across Iran celebrated the ancient fire festival (Charshanbe Suri), which is held every year on the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar year, despite the authorities’ efforts to prevent that exact thing from happening.
The festival simply involves Iranians leaping over fires, but the government fears that any mass gathering of Iranians will result in an anti-government protests so they go to extreme lengths to discourage the people from celebrating. For instance, the mullahs put a lot of security forces in the streets across Iran, including Karaj and Sanandaj where they patrolled to stop congregations.
The people resisted though, lighting firecrackers and fires despite the presence of security forces in Javadieh, Kermanshah, Urmia, Rasht, Eslamshahr, Baneh, and Tehran. While in Varamin, young people even threw firecrackers at the wall of a security force base in retaliation to the crackdown with one young person shouting that “Varamin’s flag is always up”.
Yazd State Security Forces’ deputy commander Manuchehr Nasiri threatened the people saying that participants would be arrested and held for 15 days and that security forces are on high alert.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK / PMOI) urged the people to use the festival to display their hatred of the mullahs and the people wasted no time in doing so. They burnt effigies and placards of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as handing out MEK literature across Tehran, Rudsar, Khorramabad, Aligudarz, Ahvaz, Lahijan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, Shahriar, Saravan, Isfahan, Karaj, Shahrekord, Kashan, Kermanshah, Hamedan, and Qazvin. They also chanted:
- “Down with Khamenei, hail to Rajavi, down with the dictator, hail to freedom”
- “The supreme leader’s end is near”
- “We will take back Iran”
- “We will turn Iran into a burning cry for freedom”
The MEK statement read: “By leaving Iranians to the mercy of the Coronavirus that has taken massive lives (due to the regime’s policies), the Supreme Leader thinks he can use the staggering death toll as a barrier to prevent the inevitable people’s uprising … Burning pictures, banners and effigies of Khomeini, Khamenei and Rouhani will bring joy, happiness, and hope to the people of Iran … We welcome the new year in this way during the Fire Festival.”
Hossein Rahimi, the Tehran State Security Forces commander described the situation as “not good in comparison to last year” because so many had taken place in spite of heavy police presence. In Kerman, it was also reported that Fire Festival ceremonies had become more intense.