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Behbahan: Iran security forces fire tear gas to large number of disperse protesters

Behbahan, Iran: Large number of people gathered on the streets of the southwestern city of Behbahan on Thursday chanting, cheering and clapping in protest against economic hardship. The location of the protests has been verified as being held outside a bank in central Behbahan, after being compared to photographs taken from that location at an earlier date.

Many of the protesters were seen wearing face masks, dating it to after the outbreak of COVID-19. No night protests of this scale are known to have happened at that location since the coronavirus outbreak began. Iran promised on Friday to deal "decisively" with further protests over economic hardship, a day after security forces fired teargas to disperse demonstrators Behbahan.

Iran's clerical rulers have tried to prevent a revival of last November's anti-government protests, when over 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in the deadliest street violence since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Tehran says 225 people were killed, including members of the security forces. On Tuesday, the judiciary said the death sentences of three men involved in that unrest had been upheld, sparking a surge of online protests.

In a statement on Friday, the police urged people to "vigilantly refrain from any gathering that could provide a pretext for the counter-revolutionary movement", accusing "enemies" of whipping up discontent. Last year's unrest began with protests over economic hardship but turned political, with demonstrators demanding top officials step down.

The economy, already hard hit by U.S. sanctions that have choked off its oil exports, has deteriorated further in recent months as a result of the coronavirus crisis.There were calls on social media for demonstrations across the country on Friday to protest against the three death sentences. Iran has consistently blamed the United States and Israel for domestic unrest.

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