Security forces opened fire on protesters in the Iranian city of Zahedan who held rallies for the 17th consecutive Friday since protests broke out in September.
According to videos published on social media, the regime’s security forces also used teargas to disperse the residents of Zahedan who were chanting antigovernment slogans after they left the Makki Mosque, where they attended the Friday prayers led by the outspoken Sunni cleric Mowlavi Abdolhamid.
People in other cities of Baluch and Sunni majority Sistan-Baluchestan province, such as Rask and Khash also poured onto the streets to renew their opposition to the Islamic Republic. Similar rallies by Iranian Sunni Muslims in the city of Galikash, in the northern Golestan province, were also held outside the home of the city’s Sunni cleric Mowlvi Mohammad Hossein Gorgij, the deposed Friday Imam of Azadshahr. Meanwhile, in the southwestern city of Izeh, in Khuzestan province, a memorial ceremony was held for Hossein Saeedi, a protester who was killed in the city 40 days ago.
Gorgij, who was also summoned to the special court for clergy after his dismissal, appeared among the protesters and criticized the policies of the regime as incorrect, saying that “it has been 45 years that the Islamic Republic is chanting ‘death to America,’ that resulted in the fall of its currency to 450,000 (against the US dollar).
His dismissal has led to public outrage and protests. The Shiite clerical authorities made the move as a reaction to some of his remarks that were deemed insulting to Shia sanctities. Gorgij, however, issued a statement afterwards to apologize, clarifying that his speech was misinterpreted, and he meant no disrespect towards the Shias.
Protesters in Zahedan
In the videos posted on social media Friday, people are heard chanting slogans against the regime, including its ruler Ali Khamenei who was referred to as “the dictator” as well as the Basij militia of the Revolutionary Guard, who are seen as responsible for than 500 civilian deaths in the past four months.
During his Friday prayer sermons, Mowlavi Abdolhamid, the most influential Sunni cleric in Iran, talked about widespread poverty across the country and emphasized that people supported the 1979 revolution in Iran for the same reasons they protest today. He also called for the abolition of the death penalty in the country. Most of the people executed in Iran are from the Baluch minority along with the Kurds. "Today, people are crying for the justice they wanted in the 1979 revolution; They want freedom, and they are stuck in poverty, hardship and problems."
He described the empathy and unity of Iranians inside and outside the country as exemplary, saying that the people of Iran regard freedom of speech and assembly as their rights and want to be able to choose capable managers to run the country.
"Our nation is not in favor of executions. This people are the owners of their country, and they want the authorities to exercise caution in issuing death sentences and executing people,” he added.
In the 133 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, in addition to 500 people killed in antigovernment protests, about 20,000 people have been arrested and hundreds wounded seriously. Many young people have lost one or both eyes because security forces fired pellets at their faces.
The regime has so far executed four people and dozens are sentenced for ‘moharebeh’ -- meaning “fighting God'' in the lexicon of the Iranian regime -- and ‘corruption on earth’ that carry the death penalty.