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 police officer in the port city of Mahshahr in Khuzestan province.
In the city 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 several opposition groups and activists called for demonstrations to support protesters in Khuzestan, videos, which surfaced late Tuesday and early Wednesday, showed women chanting “Down with the Islamic Republic” in a Tehran metro station. At night, some people in the capital expressed their anger with chants against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the videos.
At least two young men were shot dead during the protests. Officials have blamed armed protesters, but activists said on social media they were killed by security forces.
Iran’s ethnic-Arab minority, who live mainly in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, have long said they face discrimination in the country. In one video, an Arab female protester was heard shouting to security forces, “Sir! Sir! The demonstration is peaceful. Why are you shooting? No one has taken your land and water.”
Iran is facing its worst drought in 50 years and the water crisis has hit households, agriculture and livestock and has led to power outages.
Iran’s economy has been partially crippled by sanctions imposed on its oil industry primarily by former US President Donald Trump in 2018, as well as by the Covid-19 pandemic. Workers, including thousands in the main energy sector, and retirees have protested for months, with discontent growing over mismanagement, high unemployment and inflation over 50%.
According to the dissident Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), there were at least 31 protests across Iran on Monday and Tuesday, including demonstrations by workers and peasants.