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Amnesty: Over 300 killed in Iran crackdown on protests

December 16, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Protesters block the roads during a protest against gasoline price hike in Tehran, Iran on 17 November 2019 [Twitter]

The UK-based human rights group Amnesty International today reported that at least 304 people have been killed in Iran as a result of the government’s violent crackdown against protesters across the country last month.

It had previously put the number at 208, including the death of two teenagers aged 15 and 17. Amnesty added that it collected “harrowing testimony” revealing that Iranian authorities conducted a “wide-scale clampdown” to cover up the protestors’ deaths after it “massacred” them.

READ: Iran arrests 7,000 fuel protesters in one week

In a statement released today, the group stated that “Iran’s authorities are carrying out a vicious crackdown following the outbreak of nationwide protests on 15 November.” It maintained that “thousands of protesters as well as journalists, human rights defenders and students” were arrested in order “to stop them from speaking out about Iran’s ruthless repression.”

Iran, however, has denied the claims and figures, calling them “utter lies”, and has only confirmed a mere five deaths, including four members of the security forces who were killed by the “rioters”. An official count of those killed, based on figures from the country’s national forensic institute, is reportedly still being awaited.

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The protests began in mid-November initially over sharp increases in fuel prices set by the authorities, but soon after began to evolve into direct criticism and opposition to the ruling clerical government. While the protestors have insisted that they acted on genuine economic grievances, the Islamic Republic has claimed that the demonstrations were incited by conspiratorial foreign interference as well as the increased economic sanctions imposed by the US.

Much of the protests were brutally repressed and crushed within a matter of days by the harsh government crackdown, which included the blocking of the internet and the use of direct physical violence. Other severe methods were also utilised, such as the “incommunicado detention” in which many are being held with no access to communicate, as well as the implementation of “conditions amounting to enforced disappearance”, even including youth as young as 15 who are being “detained alongside adults”.

READ: Iran’s deteriorating economy widens gap between ruling establishment and its people

According to Amnesty, sources have informed it that “security forces are still carrying out raids across the country to arrest people in their homes and places of work.”

The human rights organisation called on Iran to adhere to the standards of human rights and to “urgently and unconditionally release all those who have been arbitrarily detained.” It has also urged the international community to apply pressure on the Republic, or else “thousands will remain at risk of torture and other ill-treatment”.