Iranian police say they will “decisively” deal with further protests against economic hardship, one day after security forces fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators in southwestern Behbahan city from the country.
Iranian leaders have tried to prevent a resumption of anti-government protests last November in which hundreds of people were killed.
Tehran says the death toll stands at 225, including members of the security forces. Rights group Amnesty International said at least 304 people were killed and thousands injured when authorities cracked down on protesters.
The judiciary said on Tuesday that the death sentences of three men involved in the unrest have been confirmed, prompting a spike in online protests.
In a statement on Friday, police urged people to “vigilantly refrain from any rally that could provide a pretext for the counter-revolutionary movement,” accusing the “enemies” of mounting discontent.
“The police have an inherent and legal duty to deal decisively with these desperate movements,” said the statement.
The police chief of the city of Behbahan, in the southwest of Iran, colonel Mohammad Azizi, was quoted by the Iranian site jamaran.news as confirming that a demonstration had taken place Thursday at 21 hours, local time (3.30 p.m. GMT).
According to him, the police “firmly dispersed” the demonstrators, who joined the economy, and there were no injuries.
Iranian media reported that police dispersed protesters in southwest Iran who were angry with Iran’s weak economy amid a U.S. sanctions campaign.
Internet access advocacy group NetBlocks.org also said on Thursday disturbances affecting online access in the oil-rich Iranian province of Khuzestan.
The cut coincided with the online posting of videos of protesters gathering in the city of Behbahan, some 570 km (355 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran.
A video verified by The Associated Press shows a crowd of dozens of people in a Behbahan square, shouting, “An Iranian will die, but will never accept humiliation. ”
Videos posted on Iranian social networks on Thursday showed protesters chanting, “Do not fear, do not fear, we are together! ” Some have chanted slogans against senior officials.
Videos posted on Twitter showed a strong presence of security forces in several cities.
“People are angry. The economy is so bad that we cannot survive, “an Iranian man told Reuters news agency by telephone from Tehran on Thursday, asking not to be appointed for security reasons.
The unrest last year started with protests over economic hardship, but turned political, with protesters demanding the removal of senior officials.
The economy, already hard hit by US sanctions that have stifled its oil exports, has further deteriorated in recent months due to the coronavirus crisis.
Social media on Friday called for protests across the country to protest the three death sentences.