Mass protests hit Iranian cities for first time in weeks

Security bolstered in the south-eastern region of Zahadan after demonstrations erupt

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Mass anti-government protests broke out again in at least eight Iranian cities on Friday.

The protests had largely subsided after months of demonstrations sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, on September 16. She was detained by the so-called morality police on charges of breaching the country's dress code.

Prominent anti-regime activist Masih Alinejad, who was the target of an assassination attempt, shared a video of an Iranian woman who removed her headscarf on stage at an engineering event. She was greeted with applause. "This is what bravery look[s] like," Ms Alinejad said.

Opposition news outlet Iran International also shared footage of increased security in the south-eastern region of Zahadan following demonstrations there. "The city regularly witnesses protests after Friday prayers," a caption alongside the video read.

Other videos showed demonstrations in Iran's capital, Tehran, as well as in the cities of Arak, Isfahan, Izeh in Khuzestan province and Karaj, the group Human Rights Activists in Iran said.

In the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, protests have continued into their 20th consecutive week "despite the heightened security in the city and deployment of multiple checkpoints, and closure of roads," Iran International reported.

In the western Kurdish regions, online videos shared by the Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights showed burning roadblocks in Sanandaj, where demonstrations have broken out since Ms Amini's death.

Hengaw shared one video that included digitally altered voices shouting: “Death to the Dictator!”

That call has been repeatedly heard in the demonstrations aimed at Iran's 83-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other videos purportedly shot in Tehran had similar chants, as well as scenes of heavily protected riot police in the street.

Iran's government has said that "foreign actors" are responsible for the demonstrations.

Updated: February 17, 2023, 5:49 PM