by WorldTribune Staff, December 16, 2019
Amnesty International has reported that at least 304 people were killed in Iran during a three-day crackdown against protests in November.
The rights group had earlier estimated 208 deaths in the demonstrations, which started amid furor over an increase in gas prices but developed in many areas in the Islamic Republic into full-fledged anti-government protests.
Iranian authorities so far have confirmed just five deaths, including four members of the security forces they alleged were killed by “rioters.”
Official numbers of those dead, injured and arrested in the protests are hard to come by as the Iranian regime blocked access to the Internet during the crackdown.
Amnesty International reported it has collected “harrowing testimony” suggesting that after authorities “massacred” protesters, they orchestrated a “wide-scale clampdown” to cover up the deaths.
“Iran’s authorities are carrying out a vicious crackdown following the outbreak of nationwide protests on 15 November,” the London-based rights watchdog said in a statement.
“Thousands of protesters as well as journalists, human rights defenders and students” were arrested, Amnesty said, “to stop them from speaking out about Iran’s ruthless repression.”
A New York Times report published two weeks ago and based on witness accounts and videos, said security forces responded to the protests by opening fire on unarmed protesters, largely unemployed or low-income young men between the ages of 19 and 26.
“Independent sources” told Amnesty that a month after the unrest, “security forces are still carrying out raids across the country to arrest people in their homes and places of work.”
Adolescents as young as 15 have been “detained alongside adults,” Amnesty said.
With dozens held in “incommunicado detention” and others in “conditions amounting to enforced disappearance”, some detention centers face “severe overcrowding”, Amnesty reported.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Iran foiled a “very dangerous” plot in its crackdown on the protests.
Iran blamed the unrest on “thugs” backed by its foreign enemies, including the United States, Israel and the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an exiled armed opposition group it considers a “terrorist” cult.
Iranian Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri warned regional countries of “dire consequences” if it is proven that they meddled to stoke unrest in Iran.