People attend a protest on the Persian New Year holiday in western Iran on March 20.
Fresh anti-government protests in several Kurdish cities in western Iran, held as the country celebrates the Persian New Year holiday, have been met with violence from security forces.
Reports published on social media show that in the western cities of Iran, including Mahabad, Oshnavieh, Bukan, Piranshahr, Saqez, Sanandaj, and Dehgolan, people took to the streets on March 20 with several of the gatherings encountering attacks by government forces.
According to local sources, including the website of the Hengaw human rights group, people in the western Iranian city of Saqez gathered at the grave of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody last September -- an event that sparked months of protests across the country.
Those who gathered to protest chanted anti-government slogans, as well as "The martyr will never die."
Meanwhile, protesters in Tehran's Ekbatan neighborhood and elsewhere in the capital chanted "Death to the dictator," a reference to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from windows and rooftops as the Persian New Year began.
Amini's death, which officials blamed on a heart attack, touched off a wave of anti-government protests that authorities have met with a harsh crackdown that rights groups say has killed more than 500 people, including 71 children. Officials, who have blamed -- without providing evidence -- the West for the demonstrations, have vowed to crack down even harder on protesters, with the judiciary leading the way after the unrest entered a fourth month. The protests pose the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution. Several thousand people have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.