PARIS: Women in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan provi­n­­ce on Friday joined nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, in what a rights group called a “rare” move in the stau­n­chly conservative southeastern region.

Iran accuses its arch enemy the United States and its allies Britain and Israel of fomenting what it calls “riots”.

Online videos showed dozens of women on the streets of the provincial capital Zahedan holding banners that declared “Woman, life, freedom” — one of the main slogans of the protest movement that erupted in mid-September.

“Whether with hijab, whether without it, onwards to revolution,” chanted women clad in black, body-covering chadors, in videos posted on Twitter.

Women-led protests have swept Iran since Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died following her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s dress code based on Sharia law.

Security forces have killed at least 448 protesters, with the largest toll in Sistan-Baluchestan on Iran’s southeastern border with Afgha­nis­tan and Pakistan, according to Oslo-based Iran Human Rights.

“It is indeed rare,” IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said of the latest protests by women in Zahedan. “The ongoing protests in Iran are the beginning of a revolution of dignity,” he told AFP.

Scores of men also took to the streets again on Friday, chanting “We don’t want a child-killing government”, in other footage that activists posted on social media networks.

At least 128 people have been killed in Sistan-Baluchestan during a protest crackdown, according to the Oslo-based organisation.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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