Hundreds protest one month after Iran’s ‘Bloody Friday’

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Hundreds of men protested in Iran’s strife-torn Sistan-Baluchistan province on Friday, marking one month since a crackdown that rights groups say killed dozens, according to online videos verified by AFP.

Security forces killed more than 90 people when they opened fire on protests that erupted on September 30 after weekly prayers in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchistan on Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan, according to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR).

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It came two weeks after demonstrations broke out across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, following her arrest in Tehran for allegedly flouting the country’s strict hijab dress rules for women.

The protests were initially fanned by fury over the restrictive dress rules for women, but have grown into a broad movement against the theocracy under supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Death to Khamenei,” chanted men who emerged from mosques in Zahedan after weekly prayers on Friday, in a video published by IHR.

The Norway-based human rights group says at least 304 people have been killed across the Islamic republic since protests broke out over Amini’s death on September 16.

It says around a third of them were killed in Sistan-Baluchistan, including at least 92 who died on September 30 – which activists have dubbed “Bloody Friday.”

The latest demonstrations come a week after more than a dozen people were killed in a crackdown by the security forces in Khash, another city in Sistan-Baluchistan.

Protests were seen taking place in Khash again on Friday, and dozens of riot police were seen heading to protests in Iranshahr, another city in Sistan-Baluchistan, in video footage posted on social media and verified by AFP.

Security forces were later seen firing tear gas to disperse protesters on a street in Iranshahr, according to video posted online by the 1500tasvir monitoring channel.

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

“During the 4 November protests in Khash, security forces immediately and exclusively relied on live ammunition to disperse protests,” it said in a statement issued late Thursday.

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

The London-based group called on the international community “to take urgent action to stop further killings of protesters in Sistan and Baluchistan province and across the rest of Iran.”

“The UN Human Rights Council must help break this cycle of systemic impunity by establishing an independent investigative and accountability mechanism to investigate crimes,” it added.

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