More anti-government protests in Iran amid hunger strike in Germany

There were protests in southeastern Iran on Friday, according to images shared by human rights groups.

People took to the streets in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Balochistan province, as anti-government protests in the country enter their fourth month.

Due to the death of Mahsa Amini in September, the unrest in Iran has turned into one of the biggest challenges in history for the country’s Islamic government.

Protesters chanted “death to the dictator,” referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to a video released by Iran Human Rights (IHR), a Norway-based NGO.

Other images from Zahedan show crowds of men, some holding placards with anti-regime slogans, and a group of black-clad women walking down a street. They also sang.

The protests in Iran began on September 16 with the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman. She died after being arrested by the country’s so-called morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab (headscarf) properly.

In solidarity with the protesters, seven Iranians living in Germany participated in a hunger strike in front of the Iranian consulate in Frankfurt. Some did not eat for 24 days, choosing to drink only water, but ended their protest on Friday.

Others did five days.

As of December 7, at least 458 people, including 63 children and 29 women, have been killed in the ongoing nationwide protests in Iran, according to Iran Human Rights, and many thousands have been arrested.

The Iranian government’s violent response has prompted international condemnation, sanctions and the country’s expulsion Wednesday from a UN commission on women’s rights.

Poor and remote, Sistan-Balochistan lies on the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is populated by the Baloch minority who suffer discrimination in Iran, according to several NGOs.

Demonstrations have taken place in the provincial capital every week since more than 90 people died during rallies over the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a police officer.

Experts say the Baloch have been emboldened by the protests sparked by Amini’s death.

In the first weeks and months, the demonstrations were largely against the hijab, which Iranian women are required to wear by law, and in defense of women’s rights. But they soon turned into anti-government protests.

Iran has also been criticized for planning to execute 11 protesters so far.

Two executions have already occurred. Mohsen Shekari was hanged on December 8 and Majidreza Rahnavard on Monday. Both were 23 years old.

Rahnavard was hanged from a crane in public.

Amnesty International said on Friday that at least 26 people were at risk of execution in connection with the protests in Iran.

Iran executes more convicts than any other country except China, according to the London-based human rights group.

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