Security forces in Iran have opened fire on protesters in Zahedan, less than one month after a massacre that killed dozens of people in the tumultuous southeastern city.
Thousands of mourners gathered at a cemetery to mark the conclusion of the Islamic period of mourning, forty days after the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked protests across the nation.
There were reports of up to six deaths in Zahedan, including a 12-year-old child. In an effort to quell local outrage, provincial officials fired the police head of Zahedan and a second senior officer at midnight on Thursday for “deficiencies” in their handling of September 30th protests in the city.
At the close of the sixth week of unrest in the country, crowds in Mahabad, another city with a long history of resistance against the regime, were also shot at.
The ISNA news agency, which traditionally sides with the state, described the crackdown as “skirmishes” between security officers and demonstrators and added that the internet had been shut down for security reasons.
Unrest erupted at the end of September in Zahedan, the provincial capital of one of Iran’s poorest provinces, Sistan-Baluchistan, after the alleged rape of a teenager by a police commander. The use of lethal force by authorities to bring the situation under control resulted in 90 deaths.
Mourners in Mahabad on their way to the governor’s office from the funeral of Ismail Mauludi, a 35-year-old protester slain the previous evening, were also fired upon.
In the weeks of upheaval that have gripped the clerical state, the funerals of those killed in protests have become flashpoints. The UN human rights office have expressed concerns that authorities are refusing to release some of the bodies of those slain.
“We’ve seen a lot of ill treatment … but also harassment of the families of protesters,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson of the office of the high commissioner for human rights, speaking at a Geneva press briefing. “Of particular concern is information that authorities have been moving injured protesters from hospitals to detention facilities and refusing to release the bodies of those killed to their families.”
The scale of the violence has been played down by Iranian authorities, who have blamed the disturbances on “rioters”