Iranian media outlets have reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has increased its presence in tense Kurdish regions as part of a campaign to contain protests. Video footage has shown dozens of people protesting in Baluch areas in the southeast.
The mass demonstrations erupted quickly across the country after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Mahsa Amini on 16 September while she was detained by the morality police. The demonstrations took place in minority areas, mostly areas with Sunni minorities.
The unrest posed one of the greatest challenges to Iran’s Shia clerical rulers since they came to power after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The prominent Sunni cleric who is of the Baluch Sunni minority, Molavi Abdolhamid, called for the end of repressing protests through arrests and killings during the Friday prayer.
His website quoted him asserting: “The people’s protest has shown that the policies of the last 43 years have reached a dead end.”
State news agencies reported that more Revolutionary Guards’ armoured units and special forces were on their way to the west and northwest border regions, where the Kurdish minority resides, after previous reinforcements were announced on Sunday.
Tasnim News Agency showed a picture of smiling Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders standing on a military vehicle and saluting a long line of troops.
Iran has accused Western countries of devising the unrest and accused protesters in ethnic minority areas of acting on behalf of separatist groups.
The authorities escalated its crackdown in Kurdish areas and on Monday the UN human rights commissioner noted reports of more than 40 deaths in those areas over the previous week. Iran announced on Tuesday that it bombed a Kurdish group in northern Iraq. In his Friday sermon, Abdolhamid condemned claims of female detainees being mistreated and violated.
“Things are said about the mistreatment of women in the media that are heavy, and I can’t bring myself to say,” he expressed, seemingly referring to reports of alleged rapes of detained women.
Videos of Baluch and Sistan women were posted on the social media accounts of activists and groups defending human rights. The footage supposedly showed protests staged on Friday in several cities in the Sistan-Baluchan region, near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A group with dozens of men marching in the area’s capital city of Zahedan chanted against Iran’s supreme leader, the Basij militia and Revolutionary Guards, saying: “Kurds and Baluch are brothers.” Another video showed protestors in Zahedan carrying a wounded protestor.
The UN Human Rights Council, which voted on Thursday to start the investigation into the oppression campaign in Iran, urged the authorities to stop its violence.