Iranian security forces have set up fortified security posts and dug trenches across the south-eastern Iranian city of Zahedan in an apparent attempt to prevent residents from holding protests after Friday Prayers on January 27, the opposition activist collective 1500tasvir reports.
Each week on Fridays, hundreds of people are taking to the streets of Zahedan and other cities across Sistan and Baluchestan province, despite the heavy presence of armed forces, chanting slogans against the Islamic republic.
Molavi Abdolhamid, the Sunni Friday prayer leader in Zahedan, has repeatedly denounced the bloody state crackdown on the nationwide protest movement triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. The outspoken cleric has urged Iran’s Shia clerical leaders to listen to the Iranian people instead of repressing them.
The demonstrations and clampdown on dissent have been particularly intense in the country’s western Kurdish areas and the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, home to Iran's Baluch minority of up to 2 million people.
Human rights groups say the Baluch community has faced discrimination and repression for decades.
The Iranian security forces have killed more than 500 people across the country, including dozens of children, and detained over 18,000 others since the widespread protests erupted in September, human rights activists say.
At least 100 protesters are currently at risk of “execution, death penalty charges or sentences,” one rights group said in December. Four young men have been executed so far in connection with the protests, triggering international condemnation.