While the Iranian regime is shouted down in a wave of demonstrations unprecedented for a month and a half, a city is the scene of singular protests: Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan, a Sunni province – in a predominantly Shiite country -, located in the southeast of the country, near Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Since the end of September, this region, among the most deprived in Iran, has been shaken by demonstrations linked to the fate of a young woman other than Mahsa Amini, a teenager from the Baloch minority, raped and tortured by the head of the police from another city in the province, Tchabahar, a major port in the Gulf of Oman. The facts, denounced by a Sunni imam, ignited Zahedan on September 30, when demonstrations marched towards the police station after the prayer.
The movement was repressed with such violence that the day was dubbed “Bloody Friday”. Security forces used live ammunition, in addition to lead pellets and tear gas against demonstrators portrayed as “terrorists”. Amnesty International has estimated at least 82, including children, the number of people killed by the regime’s men. The NGO Iranian Human Rights, based in Oslo, evoked for its part the figure of 93 dead.
Since this “Bloody Sunday”, demonstrations of varying intensity have continued, especially after Friday prayers. And on Tuesday, October 25, two members of the Revolutionary Guards were shot dead “by strangers” in Zahedan, bringing to eight the number of members of the security forces killed in the province.
Zahedan, “a different problem”
Zahedan and Balochistan are generally little talked about in Tehran. The Baluchis, like the Kurds, are victims of strong discrimination on the part of the authorities, who have been trying since the beginning of the protest to dissociate the movements and to present the Baluchis and Kurdish demonstrators as separatists. “Zahedan’s problem is different,” summed up Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi on October 22, after asserting that the “riots” anti-regime were coming to an end in the rest of the country.
The power more specifically accuses a Sunni rebel group Jaïch Al-Adl of being behind the demonstrations, which an influential religious, Molavi Abdol Hamid, denies. “It’s an ectoplasm group that you never hear about. If it didn’t exist, it would almost be necessary to invent it for the Islamic Republic, it renders so many services! », quipped researcher Stéphane Dudoignon, in a recent symposium organized by the EHESS.
If the Iranian regime plays the rot, the Baloch demonstrators claim more and more their proximity to the national movement. “We are united”, “From Zahedan to Tehran, I sacrifice my life for Iran”they sing. “Despite the diversity of local situations, all the stakeholders show a desire for unity in the struggles, adds the specialist. The Baloch cause becomes Iranian. »