Crackdown on Iran protests

Crackdown on Iran protests

Special Report

National Council of Resistance Human Rights Center

Introduction

International condemnation of the Islamic regime’s use of military force against peaceful demonstrators continue as informed estimates put the number of protestors killed by Iranian security forces during the first four days of massive anti-government demonstrations across Iran at a minimum of 90 and according to some estimates, as high as 200.

Fragmented reports reaching international media, despite government clampdown on information and the Internet, indicate that the most violent attacks on demonstrators have taken place in Southern Iran in Behbahan, Mahshahr, Bushehr, and Shiraz as well as the Kurdish towns of Javanroud and Marivan in the West, and southwestern suburbs of Tehran, particularly in Shahryar.

Several reports and individuals phoning in on foreign-based satellite radio and TV stations say IRGC and Basij militia have been shooting directly at the demonstrators aiming at their heads.

A video showing the protests at Shiraz University show IRGC gunmen opening fire at demonstrators with machine guns. Elsewhere, other videos show Basij militia’s snipers shooting the protestors from government building rooftops.

International reactions

In a new development, UN Chief Antonio Guterres said on Monday that he is watching the protest in Iran with grave concern and said that he is saddened and upset about people being killed on the streets of Iran, Stéphane Dujarric a spokesman told the press. (United Nations – Nov. 18, 2019) https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/db191118.doc.htm

In a more recent development, a spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the Islamic Republic to respect the people’s right to protest and show interest in interaction with demonstrators. ”It is legitimate and deserving of our respect when people courageously air their economic and political grievances, as is currently happening in Iran,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters.

”The Iranian government should respond to the current protests with a willingness to engage in dialogue,” she told a regular press conference, adding that Germany was following the events ”with concern.” ”We urge the government in Tehran to respect freedom of assembly and expression.” (DW – Nov. 18, 2019)

The French Foreign Ministry also issued a statement calling on Iranian authorities to respect the people’s right to protest and their freedom of expression by saying, “France is closely monitoring the demonstrations currently taking place in several cities in Iran. It deplores the death of several demonstrators over the last few days.” (France government website– Nov. 18, 2019)

The U.N. human rights office in Geneva has voiced deep concern on Tuesday at the Iranian security forces’ use of live ammunition against demonstrators and urged authorities to rein in its use of force to disperse protests sparked by a hike in fuel prices. More than 1,000 protesters have also been arrested, the OHCHR official added.

Rupert Colville, U.N. human rights spokesman, also called on authorities in Iran to restore the internet service cut off since Saturday and uphold the demonstrators’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. “There are increasing reports suggesting

the numbers killed are certainly in the dozens, in at least two figures, some reports (are) even higher.

So, it would be very useful to have a better, clearer picture but it is clearly very significant, very alarming situation” he added. Protesters should for their part carry out demonstrations without resorting to physical violence or the destruction of property, he insisted. (UN news – Nov. 19, 2019)

Amnesty international – Iran: More than 100 protesters believed to be killed as top officials give green light to crush protests

Verified video footage, 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, which have used 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.

At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, according to credible reports received by Amnesty International. The organization believes that the real death toll may be much

higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed. State media have reported only a handful of protester deaths, as well as the deaths of at least four members of the security forces. Video footage shows security forces using firearms, water cannons and tear gas to disperse protests and beating demonstrators with batons. Images of bullet casings left on the ground afterwards, as well as the resulting high death toll, indicate that they used live ammunition.“The authorities must end this brutal and deadly crackdown immediately and show respect for human life,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“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.”Top government officials including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have issued statements describing protesters as “villains” and giving security forces a green light to crush demonstrations.Under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Amnesty International is also calling on the Iranian authorities to respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including through lifting the near-total block on internet access designed to restrict the flow of information about the crackdown to the outside world

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads, using their parked cars as a form of protest. Verified video footage reviewed by Amnesty International shows riot police smashing windows of cars with drivers still inside.

According to eyewitness accounts corroborated by video footage reviewed by Amnesty International, snipers have also shot into crowds of people from rooftops and, in one case, a helicopter.While most of the demonstrations appear to have been peaceful, in some instances, as the crackdown by security forces escalated, a small number of protesters turned to stone-throwing and acts of arson and damage to banks and seminaries.“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,” said Philip Luther.

Several eyewitnesses have said that security forces have been taking away dead bodies and injured people from roads and hospitals. In a pattern consistent with past practices, intelligence and security forces have refused to return the bodies of many of the victims to their families or have forced families to bury their loved ones in a rushed manner and without an independent autopsy to establish the causes and circumstances surrounding the deaths. This is contrary to international law and standards on the investigation of unlawful killings.State media reported that, as of 17 November, more than 1,000 protesters had been arrested since the protests began.

Among those detained is human rights defender Sepideh Gholian, who was arrested on 17 November after taking part in the protests by peacefully holding up a sign about the petrol prices. Her whereabouts are currently unknown and Amnesty International fears that she is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, in light of the authorities appalling track record of torturing detained human rights defenders.

“Anyone detained solely for peacefully taking part in demonstrations, expressing support for them or criticizing the authorities must be immediately and unconditionally released. All detainees must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment,” said Philip Luther.

The organization is calling for immediate action from the international community, including the UN and the EU, to hold the Iranian authorities to account for carrying out unlawful killings and violently repressing the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Internet shutdown

On 16 November, less than a day after the protests began, the authorities implemented an ongoing near-total shutdown of the internet, shutting off nearly all means of online communications for people inside Iran. The resulting information blackout is a deliberate attempt by the authorities to prevent 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 fallen 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.

“Shutting down communications over the internet is a systematic assault on the right to freedom of expression and suggests that the authorities have something to hide. Iranian authorities must immediately lift all restrictions on access to the internet and social media to allow people to share information and freely express their opinions,” said Philip Luther.

Systematic and co-ordinated crackdown

Various government officials including the Supreme Leader, president and head of the judiciary have demonized the protesters and warned that security forces will confront protesters with force.

On 16 November, Iran’s interior minister said that the authorities will no longer show “tolerance” and “self-control” towards the protesters, despite mounting reports of protester casualties.During a speech on 17 November, Iran’s Supreme Leader described the protesters as “villains” who were incited to violence by counter-revolutionaries and foreign enemies of Iran. He ordered security forces to “implement their duties” to end the protests, effectively giving the green light for the brutality to continue.

Judicial and security bodies have also sent threatening mass text messages warning people to stay away from “illegal gatherings” or face legal action.

“Instead of giving a green light to brutality, the Iranian authorities must rein in their security forces to prevent further bloodshed. The long-standing pattern of impunity for unlawful killings and injuries in Iran is bound to continue unless independent impartial investigations are conducted into all suspected instances of arbitrary and abusive use of force, and those who commit such serious crimes and violations are held to account,” said Philip Luther.“The UN and individual member states must publicly denounce Iran’s bloody crackdown. They should press the Iranian authorities to give access to independent human rights observers to hospitals and detention centres in the country, lift the blocking of the internet and invite UN mandate holders to conduct fact-finding visits.” (Amnesty International – Nov. 19, 2019)

Arrest and deaths

· The death toll for the four days of Iran protests over gas price hike rose to at least 220. Though the number of reports and videos obtained from Iran are limited due to shut down of the internet, sources say the regime resorted to a deadly crackdown against protesters.

· Latest reports coming from Iran indicate most protesters who were shot and killed by security forces have been shot in the head and chest.

· The regime is trying to hide the extent of its killings. In many cases, security forces have refused to hand over the bodies of the protesters to their families. They are instead buried in unknown locations.

· At least 3,000 protesters were injured. More than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to the state-run Fars news agency.

· On Friday evening, November 15, the State Security Force opened fire on a demonstration by the people of Sirjan (south central Iran), killing Javad Nazari Fath abad, 37, and wounding many others.

· The regime forces shot Mr. Nazari in the head at the Naft (Oil) Square, outside the city’s oil depot, killing him instantly.

· Mehdi Nikuie Ali Abadi, 20, from Fars Province, south-central Iran, was killed Sunday, November 17, by the state security forces in Moaliabad district of Shiraz. His parents have been told that they are not allowed to mourn his death.

· Farzad Ansari is another protester targeted and killed by security forces in Behbahan, southwest Iran during the protests. He was laid to rest at his hometown on Tuesday.

· 31-year-old Mehdi Papi was targeted and killed Sunday night by security forces in Fardis, Karaj, near Tehran.

· Three women were among those killed during the nationwide protests in Iran.

· On Saturday, November 16, 2019, a 50-year-old woman by the name of Mina Sheikhi, was shot dead during the protests in Tehran. Security forces have refused to hand over the body of Mina Sheikhi who was originally from Saqqez, in the Iranian Kurdistan.

· On Sunday, November 17, 2019, armed forces in the city of Boukan, in the Iranian Kurdistan, opened fire on protesters. A young woman by the name of Shelir Dadvand, was killed during this attack.

· Also, on Saturday, November 16, 2019, a middle-age woman was shot at point blank range and killed by anti-riot forces. A video clip of the final moments of this woman has been posted on the internet and social media.

https://iran-hrm.com/index.php/2019/11/19/death-toll-of-iran-protests-exceeds-220-following-deadly-crackdowns/ https://twitter.com/IranHrm

On Sunday

November 17, a

young girl was

killed by direct

shooting of

the Iranian

armed forces. She was identified as Shelir Dadvand from the village of Mardabad in Bukan.

· At least 31 civilians have been killed, over 200 got wounded and hundreds have been arrested in the Kurdish cities in Iran following a new wave of protests in Iran against skyrocketing of petrol prices in the country, several sources confirmed to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN). Following the sudden increase in petrol price, widespread protests across Iran, including Kurdish cities such as Ilam, Dehloran, Islamabad West, Sar-Pole-Zahab, Kermanshah, Javanrood, Kamyaran, Sanandaj, Marivan, Saqqez and Bukan, have shook the country since 16 November.

At least eight protesters have been killed and more than 25 injured in the past two days in Javanrood. Five of the dead citizens have been identified as Mobin

Abdollahi, Kaveh Mohammadi, Ibrahim Moradi, Hamza Naghdi and Jabar Tajare. Kaveh Mohammadi and Jabar Taazari’s family were able to bury them in the cemetery on 18 November.

At least seven civilian have been killed and dozens injured in Marivan city during a day of anti-government protests following a sudden increase in petrol price continued in a number of Kurdish cities and in various cities across Iran. Adnan Hassanpour, a journalist living in Marivan, told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) that “the protests began peacefully in the city but were violently attacked by police and security forces.

Although the number of casualties has not been reported yet, the KHRN has learned that Mobin Abdullahi was killed by the Iranian forces. Dozens of protesters were also reportedly injured, some of whom were taken to medical centres in Kermanshah while some others preferred to be treated at home due to fear of being arrested at the hospital. According to two sources in Javanrud, four civilians were killed in the city, two of whom have been identified as Kaveh Mohammadi and Hamza Naqi.

One protester was killed and five others were injured in Marivan during protests against the decision of the Iranian authorities to increase petrol price, sources told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN). The body of the dead civilian Osman Naderi was reportedly taken to Marivan Bou Ali Sina Hospital to which the injured civilians were also transferred to a local hospital. A 13-year-old teen named Hiva Naderi has been identified among the injured civilians. “The special forces fired at protesters during a rally on 16 November in Shabrang Square in Marivan, which led to the death and injury of a number of civilians,” a source based in Marivan told the KHRN.

Moreover, the KHRN has been informed that special forces have also shot at protesters in the street leading to the Azadi Square in Sanandaj, killing at least one young woman.

Threats and Official reactions

Iranian authorities began to warn protesters that they were ready to use force, as Ali Khamenei called demonstrators “thugs.”

Khamenei acknowledged the death of protesters in his comments.

He openly ordered for a decisive crackdown on the protesters and instructed the security forces to act in line of their “duties.” Khamenei also blamed opponents of the Iranian regime and foreign enemies for “sabotage”. He described those setting fire to public property during the protests as “bandits” backed by the enemies of Iran, without elaborating.“Some people are no doubt worried by this decision … but sabotage and arson is done by hooligans not our people.

Khamenei said the increase in gasoline prices was based on expert opinion and should be implemented, but he called on officials to prevent hikes in prices of other goods.

(khamenei.ir – Nov. 17, 2019) http://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=44018

Following his remarks, other officials warned of a harsh response to protests.

The regime’s notorious Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, vowed to deal with “hooligans”.

In a statement he said that prosecutors were ordered to decisively take measures against “hooligans and affiliates of anti-revolutionary groups” with the cooperation of the police and security forces. (khabarfoori state-run News Agency – Nov. 17, 2019)

forcesforces.”them in the cemetery on 18 November.

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