Human rights sources say the number of Baluch citizens detained during violent demonstrations Friday has risen to at least 51 in the cities of Zahedan, Khash, and Mirjaveh, as three more people were identified Saturday.
The Hal-Vash website that covers news in Sistan and Baluchistan provinces reports Saturday that, following Friday prayers, government forces detained several citizens in the cities of Zahedan, Khash, Mehrestan and Mirjaveh. The website's reporting suggests more than half of detainees are 16 to 30 years old.
Human Rights Activists News Agency also covered the events of Friday in Sistan and Baluchistan. It noted that on the one-year anniversary of "Bloody Friday in Zahedan," Zahedan residents on Friday organized protests that turned violent when law enforcement officers intervened.
Images and reports indicate that some citizens were injured by inhaling tear gas. Hal-Vash also reported at least 29 people, including eight children, were hurt in clashes between security forces and protesters.
NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance, reported disruptions in internet connectivity in Zahedan, describing it as a "systematic effort to suppress public protests."
Demand for punishment
Molavi Abdul Hamid, the Friday prayer Imam of the Sunnis in Zahedan, referred to the events of September 30, 2022, as a "grave tragedy" during his Friday sermon. He declared, "The general public demands the punishment of those responsible for the Bloody Friday massacre."
A year ago, demonstrations broke out across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who died in custody following her arrest in Tehran for allegedly flouting the country's strict hijab rules.
The incidents Friday, along with images on social media, occurred amid a backdrop where the prosecutor of Sistan and Baluchistan province has categorically denied the existence of any gatherings or confrontations. The prosecutor asserted that "in opposition to the calls circulating for days to organize gatherings in the province, people have managed the situation adeptly, refraining from participating in such calls, and nothing particular happened."
Residents take to streets
Shirahmad Shirani Naroui, the editor-in-chief of Hal-Vash, emphasized in an exclusive interview with Voice of America, "On Friday, September 29, residents took to the streets in numerous cities within the Sistan and Baluchistan province, challenging government forces. Remarkably, even as night fell, protesters persisted on the streets of Zahedan."
Naroui underscored heightened security measures in Zahedan on Friday, pointing out that "following the departure of people from Makki Mosque and the commencement of peaceful protests, government forces confronted the demonstrators using stones, slingshots, and even live ammunition, including semi-automatic firearms. Currently, no information is available regarding the potential number of casualties resulting from this incident."
Mehdi Nakhl-Ahmadi, a journalist, also discussed with Voice of America factors contributing to the yearlong endurance of protests in Sistan and Baluchistan and the enthusiastic participation of the people in the commemoration of "Bloody Friday in Zahedan." He remarked, "The ongoing protests are a consequence of unfulfilled and unaddressed demands and the wisdom of Molavi Abdul Hamid, which led to the persistence of these protests."