Iran: Eastern city sees more protests after crackdown

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (HPD) — A city in eastern Iran that was the scene of a bloody crackdown last month woke up Saturday to the aftermath of fresh unrest the day before, state television reported.

Protests after Friday prayers wreaked havoc in Zahedan, a city in the south-east of the country with an ethnic Baluchi population. Stores opened directly onto the street with smashed windows; the sidewalks were littered with broken glass; ATMs were damaged and cleaning crews were sweeping debris from vandalized establishments.

The new outbreak in Zahedan occurred while in the rest of the country protests continue for the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, on September 16 when he was in the custody of the morality police. Although the protests initially focused on the obligation for women to cover their heads with hijab, they have become the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the Green Movement emerged in 2009 after disputed elections. Security forces have dispersed the rallies with live ammunition and tear gas, leaving more than 200 dead, according to rights groups.

Violence in the troubled city of Zahedan first erupted on September 30, a day activists describe as the deadliest since the start of the protests. Outrage spread over allegations that a Baluchi teenager had been raped by a police officer, stoking deep-seated tensions in the underdeveloped region that is home to a Sunni minority within the Shiite theocracy.

With anger running high after the deadly crackdown, riots flared up again on Friday, according to video footage allegedly showing crowds after midday prayers chanting “I will kill whoever killed my brother!” The extent of the clashes was not immediately clear, but state television broadcast footage of the aftermath, blaming 150 “rioters” for the damage.

For its part, the state news agency IRNA said the protesters shouted slogans, threw stones at drivers and damaged banks and other private property. Authorities reported the arrest of 57 people, among the thousands estimated to have been imprisoned due to the protests. Provincial police commander Ahmad Taheri said more culprits are being sought.

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