Amnesty International has released a new and extensive research on the 304 men, women and children killed by Iran’s security forces during last November’s ruthless crackdown and has once again concluded that the security forces’ use of lethal force against most of those killed was unlawful.
Protests erupted in Iran on November 15, 2019 following a sudden government announcement about a fuel price hike. During and following the protests between November 15 and 19, Iranian authorities arbitrarily detained thousands of protesters and subjected many to enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, and unfair trials.
The London-based human rights watchdog found that more than 220 of the recorded deaths took place over just two days on November 16 and 17.
In almost all protests, there is no evidence that people were in possession of firearms or that they posed an imminent threat to life that would have warranted the use of lethal force, according to research conducted by the group.
The organization is aware of two exceptions in one city on November 18 where gunfire was exchanged between protesters and security forces.
“The fact that so many people were shot while posing no threat whatsoever shows the sheer ruthlessness of the security forces’ unlawful killing spree,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Six months after the crackdown, Iranian authorities have still not issued an official death toll and “the devastated families of victims continue their struggle for truth and justice while facing intense harassment and intimidation from the authorities,” Luther said.
Such “impunity” afforded to the security forces “allows the recurrence of lethal force to crush dissent,” he added, reiterating Amnesty’s call to members of the U.N. Human Rights Council to “mandate an inquiry into the killings, and identify pathways for truth, justice, and reparations.”
The 304 victims were killed in 37 cities in eight provinces across Iran, reflecting the “widespread nature of the crackdown,” the statement said.
The poverty-stricken suburbs around Tehran saw the most killings, with at least 163 deaths recorded. The minority-populated western provinces of Khuzestan and Kermanshah were also badly affected, with 57 and 30 deaths, respectively.
The victims include 236 men, 10 women, and at least 23 children; the sex of the remaining 35 victims remains unknown to Amnesty International.
Amnesty International believes the real number of deaths is higher. The organization is aware of scores of additional cases reported by activists, but assessed that it does not yet have sufficient reliable details to record these possible deaths in its figures.
According to information gathered by Amnesty International, in all but four cases the victims were shot dead by Iranian security forces – including members of the Revolutionary Guards, paramilitary Basij forces and the police – firing live ammunition, often at the head or torso, indicating that they were shooting to kill.
Of the remaining four victims, two reportedly suffered fatal head injuries after being beaten by members of the security forces. Another two were recorded as having suffocated from tear gas. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)