Residents of Zahedan held a silent street protest after Friday prayers on November 17 amid heightened security presence in cities across the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan.
Military forces in armored vehicles and motorcycles patrolled the streets of Zahedan, the provincial capital, and Khash.
Snipers were deployed on a hill overlooking Zahedan’s Makki Mosque, Iran’s largest Sunni mosque.
The previous day, the provincial police commander announced the deployment of "tactical armored vehicles” to the restive province, home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people, to "strengthen security and peace and address security threats decisively."
Videos circulating online depict the movement of military vehicles and weaponry toward Zahedan and Khash.
Zahedan has been the scene of protests almost every Friday since September 30 of last year, when security forces killed nearly 100 people there in the deadliest incident in nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini. A week later in Khash, security forces killed at least 18 protesters, bystanders and worshippers after Friday prayers.
In his November 17 sermon delivered inside Makki Mosque, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of Zahedan denounced the pressure being exerted on the victims’ families and survivors of the September 30 massacre, dubbed Bloody Friday.
“Survivors and victims of Bloody Friday are under pressure to accept compensation," said Molavi Abdulhamid, Iran's most prominent Sunni cleric. "This is unacceptable according to Sharia and [Iranian] law."
Human rights groups say members of Iran’s Baluch minority – most of whom adhere to the Sunni strain of Islam – face widespread discrimination in the judicial system and in their everyday lives, with the authorities curtailing their access to education, employment, adequate housing and political office.