Anti-government protests in Iran continued late on Tuesday, with protesters setting fire to a banner of the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the central city of Isfahan, footage circulating on social media showed.
Protests sparked by a water crisis have been taking place in Iran since July 15. The protests began in the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province and have since spread to other parts of the country.
Demonstrators set fire to a Khamenei banner in Isfahan while chanting for unity between protesters in Khuzestan and Isfahan, a video posted on social media showed.
The protests spread to the capital Tehran on Monday, according to social media videos, with demonstrators chanting slogans against the country’s theocratic rulers. Protests also broke out in Karaj in Alborz province later the same day, footage circulating on social media showed.
On Saturday, protesters took the streets in Tabriz, the provincial capital of the northwestern East Azerbaijan province, to express support for protesters in Khuzestan, according to activists and footage circulating on social media.
Iran has so far confirmed the death of five people, including a police officer, in violence connected to the protests. Iranian officials have blamed unknown “rioters” for the deaths.
Activists reject the official narrative and maintain the deaths were caused by security forces opening fire on protesters. Iranian officials, who typically use the term “rioters” to refer to protesters, have blamed them for the deaths in the past.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a news site run by a group of Iranian human rights advocates, said on Saturday that it had been able to identify 10 killed and 102 detained in connection with the protests in Khuzestan.
Another human rights group said on Friday security forces had killed at least eight protesters and bystanders in Khuzestan since protests erupted in the province on July 15.
The water crisis has devastated agriculture and livestock farming which are the source of livelihood for many in Khuzestan, particularly in its Arab majority regions.
Authorities have blamed the water shortages on a severe drought, but protesters in Khuzestan say government corruption and mismanagement, as well as “discriminatory” policies aimed at changing the region’s demography, are to blame.