Iranian security forces clashed with peaceful protests in the restive eastern city of Zahedan, as anti-government rallies were held across Sistan and Baluchistan province after Friday prayers.
According to a Baluch human rights group, scores of people were killed and wounded after live ammunition was fired at people gathered inside Zahedan’s main mosque on November 25.
Footage obtained by IranWire shows demonstrations being held in Iranshahr, Saravan, and other cities across the province.
Molavi Abdolhamid, the most prominent Sunni cleric in Iran, used his Friday sermon to criticize the country’s Shia leadership over the brutal repression of protesters in the western Kurdish regions.
“Now that the people of Kurdistan are complaining about the problems and protesting, they should not be shot and they should not be treated with violence,” the Friday prayer leader in Zahedan, said on November 25.
“The Iranian currency has no value anymore and young people are unemployed. The cry of the people shows that the 43-year-old policy of the Islamic Republic has reached a dead end,” he also said.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the September death of Jina “Mahsa” Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. The protest movement has grown to become one of the biggest threats to the clerical regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In Sistan-Baluchistan, public anger at the authorities was raised further by reports that a 15-year-old Baloch girl had been raped by a police official in the province’s southern port city of Chabahar.
The unrest triggered a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces in which more than 400 people were killed, including dozens of children. Thousands of people have also been arrested.
Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchestan, was the scene of a violent crackdown on September 30 in which security forces killed 92 people, including 12 children. Four security forces were also killed that day, dubbed Zahedan’s Bloody Friday.
Sistan and Baluchistan is one of Iran’s poorest provinces. It is home to a Sunni Baluch minority estimated to number up to 2 million people.