Amnesty International: At least 300 Iranians killed in November protests

Amnesty International: At least 300 Iranians killed in November protests
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At least 304 people were killed and thousands injured during four days of popular protests that swept Iran last month, according to new figures published Monday by the human rights group Amnesty International.

The number of people killed is higher than the group's previous estimate last month of at least 208 deaths during the protests in November.

The protests were first triggered by a sharp rise in fuel costs but grew to encompass mass grievances and opposition to the government of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The government in Tehran has accused the U.S. of involvement in the protests and labeled demonstrators as “thugs” and “rioters.”

Tehran has said it would come out with its own tally of the number killed but has yet to release a number.

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Amnesty International said it has conducted “dozens” of interviews with people inside Iran to help document the number of those killed and collect descriptions of Iran’s crackdown, including regarding forced disappearances, arrests, torture and other ill-treatment.

“Harrowing testimony from eyewitnesses suggests that, almost immediately after the Iranian authorities massacred hundreds of those participating in nationwide protests, they went on to orchestrate a wide-scale clampdown designed to instill fear and prevent anyone from speaking out about what happened,” Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The organization said that verified video footage and witness testimony shows Iranian security forces opening fire on unarmed protesters who did not pose a risk. The organization said the majority of the deaths they recorded are from gunshot wounds to the head, heart, neck and other vital organs, an indication that security forces were shooting to kill.

The U.S. has said that at least 7,000 Iranians have been arrested, a number echoed by a spokesman for Iran’s parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, Hossein Naghavi Hosseini. Iranian state-media has reported at least 1,000 arrests but has not updated the number since last month.

Among those arrested are believed to be journalists, human rights activists, students and teenagers as young as 15 years old. In addition to arresting people at home and work, Amnesty International said, Iranians who were injured participating in protests are being rounded up by security forces from hospitals.

“The authorities have an obligation to protect all detainees from torture and other ill-treatment. Given the systematic use of torture in Iran, it is crucial that the authorities provide UN officials, mandate holders, and other relevant experts immediate access to detention centres and prisons to conduct fact-finding investigations,” said Luther. “Without urgent international pressure thousands will remain at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.”

The State Department has said it has received more than 30,000 communications from Iranians documenting Tehran’s crackdown on the protests following resumption of internet services that had been shut down in a media blackout in the early days of the protests.

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook said earlier this month that the State Department believes that "the regime could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began."