Peaceful protests in multiple cities across the south-eastern Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan took a violent turn after security forces intervened to disperse the demonstrators.
Ethnic Baluch protesters took to the streets of the provincial capital, Zahedan, and other cities including Iranshahr, Rask, Chabahar and Saravan after Friday prayers on June 23, calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.
Local groups monitoring events in the province reported that military forces clashed with demonstrators in Rask and Iranshahr.
In footage shared by Haalvsh, protesters in Rask can be seen hurling stones at armed forces while chanting slogans calling for the death of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Local Sunni cleric Molavi Abdul Ghaffar Naqshbandi said on Twitter that security forces attacked the Sunni Mosque and Rask Seminary in an attempt to arrest his father, another prominent cleric.
He called upon local residents to block the roads in Rask to obstruct the movements of the Islamic Republic's security forces.
In Iranshahr, Chabahar and Saravan, protesters also poured onto the streets after prayers, chanting slogans such as "rape, crime, death to this state."
In Zahedan, Haalvsh reported that security and military forces conducted widespread arrests around the Grand Makki Mosque.
Despite heightened security measures, videos shared on social media show protesters in the city shouting slogans such as "I will kill, I will kill, whoever killed my brother," "Kurds, Baluch, and Azeri, freedom and equality," and "Death to Khamenei."
In his sermon, the outspoken Sunni Friday prayer leader of Zahedan accused the Islamic Republic’s leadership of neglecting national interests.
Molavi Abdulhamid urged Iran’s Shia rulers to abandon ineffective policies and instead heed the voice of the people.
"As long as we have breath in our bodies, we will prioritize the interests of the Iranian people, and we are prepared to face any threat to our lives in pursuit of these interests," the 75-year-old cleric said, referring to an assassination plot against him.
Earlier this week, local news reports quoted sources as saying an intelligence operation by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had attempted the poisoning of the imam, which was thwarted by the identification and arrest of an individual assigned to carry out the killing.
Sistan and Baluchistan is home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people. The provincial capital has seen protest rallies every Friday since September 30 of last year, when security forces killed nearly 100 people in the deadliest incident in the nationwide demonstrations sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody.
Iranian security forces have responded to the protest movement with brutal force, killing more than 520 people during demonstrations and unlawfully detaining over 20,000 others, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
The protests and clampdown on dissent have been particularly intense in western Kurdish areas and Sistan and Baluchistan.