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Demonstrations in Iran: If you guys talk then you will be shot

 Soran pointed all 2 fingers at his left temple with a movement like firing a gun.

"When you talk, they're going to shoot bullets into your head," he told me.

Around us, mountains soar in the Iranian highlands.

We are in a bus terminal in Penjwen, a town in the northern Iraqi territory of Kurdistan, which is near the Iranian bank post.

Several cars sporadically carried and dropped off passengers in the dusty courtyard of the terminal.

Some of the passengers took a short break while drinking tea, while others went straight to the small minibus that was about to take them to Sulaimaniya City in Iraq.

Soran often moves his hands and feet as a gesture when talking.

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He demonstrated the football with one of his legs, as he showed me how he was pounded by Iranian security forces.

"It happened so many days ago when I was protesting," he said.

"The government beat me in the back, they flapped me and hit me with a club."

"They shot my colleague and the others too. All because I participated in the demo."

Soran is a 32-year-old man living in Saqqex, the hometown of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old ethnic Kurdish woman who died in police custody three weeks ago spurring a wave of Iranian anti-government demonstrations.

Along this way it passed the banks of Iran and Iraq, to work in the Kurdistan area, but now he wondered what he would return to his courtyard area.

Demo action is growing and survival is getting harder.

He explained that there was no internet connection for the last three weeks because of the restrictions imposed by the Iranian authorities, which handled the demonstrations.

"We used to be afraid of the government, but now the wall of fear has collapsed. There is no fear of going back."

But when I asked him what this wave of demonstrations would spur the collapse of the Islamic Republic, he replied emphatically, "No, the government did not collapse."

"It can't be replaced They are strong and they continue to kill people. We never stop and they will continue to kill us."

"It's an, and it's corrupt. No one cares about us. The outside world explained they were providing Iranian support, but no one did. We are tortured and killed every day."

As a pack of stray dogs fell asleep under the cover of a parked truck, several people were seen huddled at the minibus stop.

Joining the circle, they chatted and waited for the minibus to start the journey.

Some of them were Iraqi Kurds, but one of them was Iranian society, and he elaborated his life story on the other.

Farhad is 36 years old and came from Sanandaj, the place where there was a large demonstration and a deadly collision with the security apparatus.

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The Hengaw Kurdish human rights front gave reports of at least 32 civilians being killed by security forces and another 1,540 injured in western Iran - which is occupied by ethnic Kurds.

However, Farhad believes the number of fatalities is higher than that figure.

"At least 20 people were killed last night," he told the line. "There are about 40 people, and more than 70 people are secured. But we can't review it because Iranian intelligence is always monitoring, they are secretly recording."

"They muffled my brother in prison because of political arguments."

"These demos are getting bigger, but they're not going to bring down the government. No, [the regime] is strong. Rule. The Islamic Republic is surviving."

Tuana is on the next bus line, He now lives next to the edge of Iraq, but has spent more than 20 years of his life in Iran.

The man often returns to Iran 3x a week to work.

Wearing a clean white shirt and sunglasses, he explained some of the shifts he's watched in recent weeks in western Iran.

"There is an increase in troops on the banks. They're not like the military looks - likely militias?"

"I'm watching more and more vehicles carrying more and more people. It seems that they were brought from the other side in Iran to the Kurdish region here."

Tuana witnessed the inequality of vehicle highways on the banks of Iran.

"The highway is shrinking conspicuously. Some people nowadays just arrive to work, they are afraid that if they leave they will be seen as members of the opposition forces, or even spies."

There were rumors spread about the risks for those who took part in the demo.

"It spreads through word of mouth. My colleagues in Karaj [near Tehran] have heard this. If the government is going to vacate the accounts of some of the protesters."

"Or as winter approaches, their gas supply will be stopped and they will be kept in the cold."

An hour approaching the setting sun, there was a little crowd left in the terminal.

Soroush is currently continuing his studies at the Tehran Campus.

His journey over the banks of Iran and Iraq was for tasks related to his studies.

His long beard was orange and silver in color.

He told me if he could speak English as he collected money from other passengers lined up to pay for their trip.

"Some students in Tehran did demos, yes, and I did demos. However, 80% of the people who live there still like the government, even though his men stepped on the street with guns and killed some people."

"Jin, Jiyan, Azadi," Soroush said, hitting the air. A smile radiated from his face.

"Jin, Jiyan, Azadi" is the jargon of some demonstrators that means "Woman, Life, freedom".

It made me realize that even though this is a movement held by women, I have not been successful in hearing stories from women on the edge.

The number of those who traveled was less than that of some men.

And of the few people I spoke to, each was warned not to talk about a demo by their travel mates.

An elderly woman greeted me warmly as she got out of the taxi, and asked how I was doing.

When I asked him about how things were going in the house, his son quickly reminded him.

"Can't talk about anything."

He took directly his white cotton bag full of the same luggage, smiled, and moved away in silence.

- ---

All the names in this paper have been changed to make protection of their identity.

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