Several videos uploaded by social media users showed security forces using tear gas to disperse protesters, and the semi-official Fars news agency said “rioters” shot and injured a policeman. another in the port city of Mahshahr, in the province of Khuzestan.
In the town of Izeh, a video showed protesters chanting “Reza Shah, bless your soul”, a reference to the king who founded the Pahlavi dynasty which was overthrown by the 1979 Islamic revolution.
After various opposition groups and activists called for demonstrations in support of the Khuzestan protesters, videos, which surfaced on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, showed women chanting “Down with the Islamic Republic” at a metro station in Tehran. At night, some people in the capital expressed their anger with chants against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reuters could not independently authenticate the videos.
At least two young men were shot dead during the protests. Officials blamed the armed protesters, but activists said on social media that they were killed by security forces.
Iran’s ethnic Arab minority, which mostly lives in oil-rich Khuzestan province, has long said it faces discrimination in the country. An Arab protester could be heard shouting at the security forces in a video: “Sir! Sir ! The demonstration is peaceful. Why are you shooting? No one has taken your land and your water.
Iran faces its worst drought in 50 years and the water crisis has affected households, agriculture and livestock, and led to blackouts.
Iran’s economy has been crippled in part by the sanctions imposed mainly on its oil industry by former US President Donald Trump in 2018, as well as by the Covid-19 pandemic. Workers, including thousands in the key energy sector, and retirees protested for months, with growing discontent over mismanagement, high unemployment and an inflation rate of over 50%.
There were at least 31 protests across Iran on Monday and Tuesday, including rallies of workers and farmers, according to the dissident Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).