Iranian security forces fired on protesters and killed dozens of people last week in Zahedan, a city in Iran’s southeastern Sistan Balochistan province, as the country is rocked by a wave of protests. accuse several organizations.
For their part, the media close to the Iranian power described the clashes in Zaheda – which began on September 30 after Friday prayer – as a “terrorist incident” directed against a police station and which led to the death of five members of the Revolutionary Guard, the ideological army of the regime.
During “Bloody Friday in Zahedan”, the security forces “bloodly repressed” a demonstration that broke out after prayers, say several NGOs, according to which the images of gunshot wounds, Tehran’s policy of discrimination and repression in the region is revealing.
Where did the clashes take place?
The clashes took place in Zahedan, the main city in the province of Sistan Baluchistan, in the southeast and near the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Sistan Balochistan is one of the poorest regions and home to the Baluchi minority, almost all of whom adhere to Sunni Islam and not to Iran’s dominant Shiism.
Militants and NGOs have long lamented that the region suffers from discrimination by the Shia religious establishment, with a disproportionate number of Baluchis killed in clashes with law enforcement each year or convicted and executed.
Amnesty International estimates that, in 2021, at least 19% of all those sentenced to death were members of the “Baluchi ethnic minority, which represents 5% of the Iranian population as a whole”.
What is the origin of the manifestations?
Iran has been shaken for more than two weeks by a wave of protests across the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, who died three days after her arrest for violating the strict dress code of the Islamic Republic, which requires women to wear the veil.
According to the NGO Iran Human Rights, the Zahedan demonstrations were triggered by allegations that a police chief in the port city of Chabahar – also in Sistan Baluchistan province – raped a 15-year-old girl from the Baluchi Sunni minority.
The accusation was made public last month by the man responsible for Friday prayers in the town of Rask, south of Zahedan, sparking protests that later spread to the region’s main town.
How were the events?
A demonstration took place in Zahedán on September 30, after Friday prayers, Abdolá Aref, director of the NGO Baluch Activists Campaign (BAC), told AFP.
The demonstrators then headed to the police station to protest the rape and shouted slogans against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Some threw stones and the security forces responded by opening fire, Aref said, noting that “many people were killed by snipers, including people who had not participated in the demonstrations.”
Demonstrations spread throughout the city and targeted other police stations.
According to the Iranian agency Tasnim, the Sunni Jaish al-Adl rebel group, active in the region, claimed responsibility for an attack on a police station.
For its part, the Baluch Activists Campaign (BAC) stated on Telegram that 88 people had been confirmed dead.
What is the current situation?
According to Aref, the situation in Zahedan has returned to calm, although it is possible that new demonstrations will be held after the prayer this Friday.
However, numerous people were arrested during the repression operations against people who participated in the demonstrations, Aref added, although he specified that the exact number of these arrests has not yet been clarified.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi ordered Thursday the opening of an investigation into these events.
“Following the recent events in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan Balushistan province, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi went to the scene this Thursday by order of the president, to carry out an in-depth investigation into the origins and causes” of the 30 January violence. September, indicated the site of the presidency in a statement.