Thousands of Iranians protested in the restive southeast on Friday to mark a Sept. 30 crackdown by security forces known as “Bloody Friday” as the country’s clerical rulers battled persistent nationwide unrest.
Amnesty International stated that security forces unlawfully murdered at least 66 people in September following firing on protesters in Zahedan capital of the flashpoint Sistan-Baluchistan provincial. According to authorities, the clashes were provoked by dissidents.
A video posted by 1500 Tasvir, a popular Twitter account, claimed to show thousands marching in Zahedan again on Friday. The authenticity of this footage could not been verified.
1500 Tasvir claimed another video from the town Khash in the southeast. It featured protesters breaking a sign with the name Qassem Solimani, a top general who was assassinated during a US drone strike in 2020 in Iraq.
Popular anger before the Sept. 30 shooting was fueled in part by allegations of the rape by a local officer of a teenage girl. Authorities say that the case is under investigation.
Anti-government demonstrations also started erupting that month after the death of a Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by morality police for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code imposed on women.
Since then, nationwide demonstrations have become a popular revolt with people from students to doctors, lawyers, workers, and athletes taking part. The fury was directed mostly at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Muhammad Khamenei.
A group of countries led by Germany and Iceland requested a debate on the “deteriorating” situation in Iran at the UN top human rights body later this month, a document showed.
The government, which has blamed Amini’s death on preexisting medical problems, has said the protests are fomented by Iran’s foreign enemies including the United States, and has vowed to reestablish order.
It accuses armed separatists, accusing them of committing violence and trying to destabilize Islam Republic.
The worst unrest has been seen in areas that are home to ethnic minorities with long-standing grievances about the state, such as the Sistan-Baluchistan or Kurdish regions.
Sistan-Baluchistan, near Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to a Baluch minority estimated to number up to 2 million people. According to human rights groups, they have suffered discrimination and repression for decades. Iran denies this.
The region is one of the country’s poorest and has been a hotbed of tension where Iranian security forces have been attacked by Baluch militants.
The activist news agency HRANA reported that 330 protesters, including 50 minors, had been killed in the unrest by Thursday. According to the agency, 39 security personnel were also killed and nearly 15,100 people were detained.
Iran’s hardline judiciary will hold public trials of about 1,000 people indicted for unrest in Tehran, a semi-official news agency said on Oct. 31.
They were accused of sabotage, assaulting, killing or setting fire to security forces personnel or public property.
The United Nations Human Rights Experts urged Iran authorities to stop indicting people for participating in peaceful demonstrations or alleged participation.
The special rapporteurs, experts, expressed concern about the possibility that women and girls who participated in protests might be targeted.
Social media videos purporting to be from Saravan in Sistan Baluchistan showed protesters wearing Baluch robes calling on Khamenei’s murder.
“Where did the military forces get trained to shoot people? Today it has become clear that people were killed unjustly,” Molavi Abdolhamid, Iran’s most prominent Sunni cleric and a long-time critic of Iran’s Shi’ite leaders, said in his Friday prayer sermon in Zahedan. “Authorities must condemn this crime, and those who ordered (the events of) Bloody Friday and its perpetrators must be brought to trial,” Abdolhamid added.
It appeared that tensions could resurface in Zahedan.
State television reported that the ground forces commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, told a gathering of Sunni and Shi’ite tribal elders and religious leaders that clerics had to be careful about what they said.