Angry Iranians protest the “Bloody Friday” massacre.

Angry Iranians protest the “Bloody Friday” massacre.


Hundreds of angry men protested after Friday prayers in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province, online videos showed, six weeks after rights groups said dozens had been killed in a crackdown in the region.

Security forces shot dead more than 90 people on September 30 during protests after weekly prayers in the provincial capital of Zahedan on Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan, Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said.

It came two weeks after demonstrations flared in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for allegedly flouting the country’s strict dress code for women. The protests have evolved into a broad anti-theocracy movement led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83.

“Death Khamenei,” chanted men emerging from mosques in Zahedan after Friday prayers in a video released by IHR.

The human rights group says at least 304 people have been killed in protests across Iran since Amini’s death on September 16.

Around a third of them are said to have been killed in Sistan-Balochistan, including at least 92 who died on September 30 in a massacre activists have dubbed “Bloody Friday”.

The latest demonstrations come a week after more than a dozen people were killed in a raid in Khash, Sistan-Balochistan.

Amnesty International said at least 18 protesters, bystanders and worshipers – including two children – were killed in the crackdown on “largely peaceful protests” in Khash.

Protests resumed in Khash on Friday and dozens of riot police were deployed in Iranshahr in the same province, online videos verified by AFP showed.

In footage released by surveillance channel 1500tasvir, security forces were seen firing tear gas to disperse protesters in Iranshahr.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency said a week of appeals by “counter-revolutionaries” 40 days after the Zahedan incident to stir up trouble had failed.

Worshipers walked home from Iran’s largest Sunni mosque in Zahedan without incident, apart from a few shouts of anti-government slogans, Tasnim said.

Elsewhere, including Khash, Iranshahr and Rask, there have been only “small demonstrations” with anti-government chants, the agency said.

It added that protesters in Iranshahr walked from a Sunni mosque to a police station, where they threw stones until security forces intervened.

In Rask, local residents burned tires that briefly blocked the road leading to Chabahar port, Tasnim said.

– “Systemic impunity” –

London-based Amnesty International said it had recorded the names of at least 100 protesters killed by security forces in Sistan-Balochistan since September 30, but added the real number was much higher.

The human rights group called on the international community to “take urgent action to stop further killings” and called on the UN Human Rights Council to establish “an independent investigative and accountability mechanism to investigate crimes”.

Mass arrests have so far charged 1,000 people, and activists say many are at risk of the death penalty.

A panel of UN legal experts took up the issue on Friday, calling on “the Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a means of suppressing protests.”

Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday accused Western countries of “encouraging violence and teaching (protesters) to make weapons and Molotov cocktails through social networks and the media.”

In a phone call with UN chief Antonio Guterres, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also criticized Western nations who have been pushing for a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on action against Iran.

He said such a session should instead be held for “governments that promote violence and terror, not for (Iran) who is the true defender of human rights and has exercised serious restraint over the recent unrest.”

– ‘Chant Amini’s Name’ –

The riot police, the Revolutionary Guards and their paramilitary force Basij were mainly involved in the crackdown.

But the commander of Iran’s ground forces said his troops were awaiting orders from Khamenei to intervene against the protesters.

Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari said the army’s lack of involvement should not be misinterpreted.

“If the revolutionary community does not react today, it is because the supreme leader decided that,” he said. “But the day he gives the order to deal with them, they have no place in our country.”

Iran’s campaign of mass arrests against the protests has trapped athletes, celebrities and journalists.

Activists have called on football fans attending the World Cup later this month to chant Amini’s name in the 22nd minute of every Iranian game. She was 22 years old when she died.

“Help us immortalize #MahsaAmini and our fight against this brutal regime. Say #MahsaAmini in the 22nd minute of every World Cup game,” New York-based activist Masih Alinejad tweeted.

Iran will face England, Wales and the United States in the tournament.

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