Iranians took to the streets for a third day of anti-government protests in what appeared to be the biggest domestic political challenge to Tehran’s leaders since the 2009 Green movement was crushed by security forces.
At least two Iranians protesters were killed in the city of Doroud, in Iran’s western Lourestan province, as the riot police opened fire to contain a group of people said to have been trying to occupy the local governor’s office. Clashes between demonstrators and the anti-riot police became violent in some cities as the demonstrations spread.
The two men killed in Doroud have been identified as Hamzeh Lashni and Hossein Reshno, according to an Iranian journalist with the Voice of America’s Persian service who has spoken to their families. Videos posted online showed their bodies on the ground, covered with blood. Another video showed protesters carrying their bodies to safety. At least two others were also reported to have been killed in Doroud, but this could not be independently verified.
Early on Sunday, Iran’s interior minister warned protestors that their actions will have consequences. “Those who damage public property, disrupt order and break the law must be responsible for their behaviour and pay the price,” Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli said on state television.
Elsewhere it appeared that the security forces held people back, with sporadic use of teargas. The number of people joining protests increased as night fell, making it difficult for the authorities to target protesters.
“Death to Khamenei” chants, in reference to the country’s supreme leader, featured in many demonstrations. Videos posted on social media from Tehran and at least one other city – Abhar in Zanjan province – showed protesters taking down banners depicting the images of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Such chants and acts of resistance are unprecedented in a country where the supreme leader holds the ultimate authority and criticising him is taboo.