Protesters in the city of Khash, Sistan-Baluchestan province, on November 18

Protesters in the city of Khash, Sistan-Baluchestan province, on November 18

Baluch Anger Simmers Despite Khamenei Envoy Visit

Friday, 11/18/2022

As nationwide protests in Iran entered their third month on Friday, there is no sign of unrest abating as mourning ceremonies for protesters morph into new rallies. 

Friday has been an action-packed day across the country and in southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan where cities and towns were scenes of large antigovernment protests. People in the cities of Chabahar, Iranshahr and Khash as well as provincial capital Zahedan held massive gatherings following Friday prayers and chanted slogans against the Islamic Republic and its ruler Ali Khamenei. 

People in Zahedan were chanting slogans for freedom and also in honor of Khodanour Lajoie, a young man shot dead on October 1. A photo of Lajoei chained to a lamppost by the police several months ago has turned into a symbol of the government’s injustice in the impoverished province.

Videos published on social media showed resident of Khash chanting “This is the year of blood, Seyyed Ali (Khamenei) will be gone,” as another group of people were dislodging a street sign carrying the name of IRGC’s extraterritorial Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani, an icon for the Islamic Republic who was killed in a US targeted air strike in Iraq. Since the beginning of the current wave of protests, ignited by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a lot of statues and banners of Islamic Republic figures have been destroyed or burnt down by people. The Islamic Republic has put forces on guard specially to protect its symbols. 

In his Friday Prayer sermon, Sunni religious leader Molavi Abdolhamid said the visit of a delegation sent by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did not meet the expectation of his people, emphasizing that he would not be threatened or bribed into condoning the bloodshed in Zahedan and Khash. Abdolhamid, generally known as one of the most influential political and religious leaders in Iran as nearly 15 million Sunnis listen to him, had earlier held Khamenei accountable for the attacks on protesters. He noted that he would negotiate and interact but would never bargain over the blood of the people. 

Tehran Friday Imam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari went to Zahedan this week as Khamenei's envoy to try to pacify growing opposition among Sunnis after two attacks that killed 100 Sunnis. Following his meeting with Abdolhamid, Akbari harshly criticized him and other Sunni clerics for being ungrateful for what he said the Islamic Republic has done for them.

Molavi Abdolhamid

Reports from Tehran said that during the meeting Abdolhamid complained about government discrimination against Sunnis and said that Khamenei has not replied to several of his letters. Abdolhamid wrote in a November 16 tweet, "We expected the Leader's envoy to see the realities on the ground, condemn the crimes that were committed in Zahedan's bloody Friday, and appease the family members of those who have been killed or wounded in the attacks and to uphold their rights rather than threatening and intimidating the oppressed people."

In addition to Sistan and Baluchestan, people in many cities such as Tabriz and Tehran were out on streets chanting slogans focused on the death of a nine-year-old boy, identified as Kian Pirfalak, who was killed in the city of Izeh in Khuzestan province on Wednesday.

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