According to reports, over 100 Iranians are feared to have been killed in Iran. Eyewitness testimony from people on the ground and information gathered from human rights activists outside Iran reveal a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings by Iranian security forces, reports claim the forces use excessive and lethal force to crush largely peaceful protests in more than 100 cities across Iran sparked by a hike in fuel prices on 15 November, said Amnesty International today.
These unlawful killings were caused by an unusual hike in fuel prices and a shutdown of the internet.
Amnesty International has reported that at least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed. The organization believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed.
Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said, “The authorities must end this brutal and deadly crackdown immediately and show respect for human life”. He also added, “The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy.”
Some Government officials including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei amongst others, have issued statements addressing protesters as “villains” and giving security forces licence to crush such gatherings.
According to eyewitnesses, snipers have also shot into crowds of people from rooftops and, in one case, a helicopter.
While most of the protests appear to have been peaceful, in some cases, as the crackdown by security forces heightened, a small number of protesters resorted to throwing stones and other acts of arson and damage to banks and seminaries.
Philip Luther said, “Even if a small minority of protesters have resorted to violence, police must always exercise restraint and use no more force than is strictly necessary, proportionate and lawful in response to the violence they are facing. Violence by a few individuals does not justify a widespread reckless response”
On the Shutdown of Internet, 16 November, less than a day after the protests began, the authorities enforced shutdown of the internet, shutting off nearly all means of online communications for people inside Iran. The resulting information blackout is a calculated attempt by the authorities to obviate people from sharing images and videos of the deadly force being used by security forces.
According to the NGO NetBlocks, Iran’s connectivity to the outside world has nose-dived to 4% of ordinary levels since the protests began. All mobile networks have been disconnected and there is a near-total national internet and telecommunication blackout, although some users have still been able to access the internet through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other means.
The United Nations human rights office said it had received reports that dozens of people had been killed. It voiced concern about the security forces’ use of live ammunition and urged authorities to rein in its use of force to disperse protests.
“It is clearly very significant, a very alarming situation and widespread across the country” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in Geneva.
Our thoughts are with the friends and families of those lost in Iran.