Activists have said that Iranian security forces who opened fire on protesters after Friday prayers in the restive Southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan killed dozens of people and wounded several others.
An American magazine, Barron’s reports the Islamic republic has intensified a crackdown on protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish origin. It was reported that campaigners had called for nationwide demonstrations this week in solidarity with Kurdistan, which along with Sistan-Baluchistan has borne the brunt of Iran’s deadly protest crackdown. During the Friday demonstration, protesters were heard chanting “Kurdistan, Kurdistan, we will support you,” according to a video from the Sistan-Baluchistan capital Zahedan, one of the few Sunni-majority cities in predominantly Shiite Iran.
The protesters in an unverified video footage quoted by Barron’s were said to sang “Kurds and Baluchs are brothers, thirsting for the leader’s blood,” in reference to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Activists said the security forces had opened fire on protesters in the city.
London-based Baloch Activists Campaign (BAC) said on its Telegram channel that “Dozens have been killed or injured,” but AFP was not able to confirm the casualties.
The protesters also took to the streets of the Sistan-Baluchistan cities of Iranshahr, Khash and Saravan, said BAC and the 1500 tasvir monitor.
Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had used military equipment, including heavy machineguns, to suppress the people.
The Kurdish-populated provinces of western and northwestern Iran have been hubs of protest since the death of Amini after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.
On Tuesday, IHR said the Iranian security forces had killed at least 416 people, including 51 children and 27 women, since the protests broke out.
Its toll included at least 126 people killed in Sistan-Baluchistan and 48 people slain in Kurdistan province. More than 90 were killed during a mass shooting in Zahedan on September 30.
Friday’s protests came a day after the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to create a high-level investigation into Iran’s bloody crackdown.
Iran condemned the move, saying it is “useless and represents a violation of the country’s national sovereignty”.