More Than 200 People Killed in Iran Amid Brutal Government Crackdown on Protesters, Amnesty International Says

December 3, 2019 Updated: December 3, 2019

At least 208 people have been killed during a security crackdown on protests in Iran, Amnesty International said on Dec. 2.

The human rights group said that the “alarming” death toll was based “on credible reports” it had compiled after interviewing a range of sources, including the families of victims.

It added that the real number of deaths attributed to the protests is “likely to be higher.”

According to the report, dozens of deaths have been recorded in the city of Shahriar in Tehran Province, making it one of the cities with the highest death tolls.

“This alarming death toll is further evidence that Iran’s security forces went on a horrific killing spree that left at least 208 people dead in less than a week. This shocking death toll displays the Iranian authorities’ shameful disregard for human life,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“Those responsible for this bloody clampdown on demonstrations must be held accountable for their actions,” he added.

Luther said Iranian authorities have been unwilling to carry out “independent, impartial, and effective investigations into unlawful killings” and use of force against protesters, and called upon the international community to help ensure they are held accountable.

Elsewhere in the report, Amnesty claimed it had gathered information from families of the victims who said they had been warned not to speak to the media and had even been banned from holding funeral ceremonies for their loved ones.

Other family members are reportedly being forced to pay excessive amounts of money to have the bodies of the victims returned to them, the group claims.

Widespread protests broke out in Iran on Nov. 15 after authorities announced a new petrol-rationing scheme which would see gasoline prices hike up to 50 percent.

The decision means that private vehicles are now restricted to 16 gallons of fuel monthly, while any fuel purchases in excess of this limit will incur an additional charge of $0.98 per gallon.

Authorities said the new scheme aims to redistribute money to the country’s neediest citizens, however it quickly faced backlash from citizens throughout the country who took to the streets to call for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government.

At the time the protests began, Amnesty International said that although the protests had been triggered by the increased gas prices, they were also due to the Iranian people being “sick and tired of all of the corruption and fanatic ideology” and wanting “a change.”

Amid the unrest, Iran shut down internet access, preventing those inside the country from sharing information with the outside world. However, it has now been restored in some areas, prompting multiple videos and photos to surface on the internet detailing the chaos.

Meanwhile, authorities in Iran have declined to specify the exact number of casualties or arrests made and claimed Amnesty’s figures on the national death toll were speculative.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the U.N. in Geneva said that Tehran “has good reasons to suspect the credibility of the reports released by AI [Amnesty International] due to its past pattern of over-reliance on discredited and unreliable sources and because of certain in-built biases concerning Iran.”

It added that Iran “fully respects the right to peaceful assemblies” and claimed that “hundreds of law enforcement and police forces plus innocent citizens were among the casualties” caught up in the protests.

They concluded that security forces had used “maximum restraint and care even in dealing with those who abused the protests to undermine public safety and damage public and private property is testimony to this.”

The Iranian regime was launched with a combination of Soviet-style subversion and the influences of Egyptian author, Sayyid Qutb, who was a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qutb merged socialist politics with Islam to create the ideology at the core of totalitarian governance, according to Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

Under this model, criticisms of the government become synonymous with attacks on the religion, allowing for socialist rulers to commit crimes, and even murder, against political opponents, while claiming to be defending their religion.