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Iran: Protesters mark 'Bloody Friday'

November 11, 2022

Dozens of people, including children, were shot dead on "Bloody Friday" amid nationwide demonstrations that were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman in September.

People take to the streets after Friday prayers in Zahedan
Protesters in Zahedan came out on FridayImage: UGC/AFP

Hundreds of Iranians took to the streets after Friday prayers in southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province to mark a September 30, 2022, crackdown by security forces known as "Bloody Friday." 

Videos online showed men emerging from mosques in the provincial capital, Zahedan, today and chanting "Death to Khamenei," referring to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The protesters were commemorating the dozens of people, including children, who were shot dead by security forces on "Bloody Friday" in Zahedan. The unrest that day was fueled largely by the alleged rape in custody of a local teenager by police.

That incident came two weeks after demonstrations erupted in Iran over the death in custody of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini. She was arrested in Tehran by the morality police in mid-September after being accused of wearing her headscarf incorrectly.

While the protests initially took aim at Iran's restrictive rules for women, they soon grew into a nationwide movement against the clerical leadership that has ruled Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Some of the worst violence has been in areas that are home to minority ethnic groups with grievances against the state, including poverty-stricken Sistan-Baluchistan.

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More than 300 deaths since start of protests

According to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, more than 300 people have been killed in the nationwide protests since Amini's death — around a third of them in Sistan-Baluchistan alone.

That includes the dozens who were killed on "Bloody Friday," as well as in subsequent crackdowns. 

Last week, security forces killed more than a dozen people protesting in Khash, another city in the province.

Amnesty International has called on the international community "to take urgent action to stop further killings" of protesters in Sistan-Baluchistan and across the rest of Iran.

Mass arrests have led to around 1,000 people being charged over the protests so far. They stand accused of offenses ranging from sabotage to assaulting members of the security forces.

Iran protests: Revolutionary Guard deployed

UN experts urge Iran to stop death penalty threats

In a statement Friday, United Nations human rights experts called on Iranian authorities to stop indicting people with charges punishable by death for participating in the demonstrations.

"We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests," the statement said.

The experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but do not speak on behalf of the world body, said they were particularly concerned women and girls would be disproportionately targeted for being at the forefront of the protests.

They called on Tehran to "immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty."

Iran's harsh response to the protests has drawn international condemnation. The European Union, which sanctioned the regime last month over its crackdown, is expected to discuss new sanctions against Tehran next week.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that "it is our European understanding that observance of universal human rights is not a national matter, but a universal matter."

nm/aw (Reuters, AFP)