Authorities must end the fatal crackdown on protesters

Press release
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(Paris, London) The Iranian authorities must immediately end their deadly crackdown on unarmed protesters who have taken to the streets in numerous cities to express their opposition to the gasoline price hikes, FIDH and its Iranian member organizations, League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) and Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), urged today.

Under the international human rights treaties to which Iran is a state party, the Iranian government has an obligation to investigate human rights violations, including the use of lethal force by members of the law enforcement agencies and plainclothes security personnel, and hold the perpetrators accountable, FIDH, LDDHI, and DHRC said.

“Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei paved the way for the suppression of the protesters by calling them ‘villains’. Khamenei’s support for the petrol price increase, which will push up the already unbearable costs of living for the majority of the people, shows how out of touch he is with ordinary citizens.”

Shirin Ebadi, DHRC President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

In the early morning of 15 November 2019, Iranian authorities announced a new price system for gasoline and raised its price by up to 250%. The price hike was decided by the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination of Three Powers of the State, members of which include the heads of the three branches of the state. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who established the unconstitutional new Supreme Council in June 2018, endorses the body’s decisions.

Mass protests began in the southern cities on the afternoon of 15 November 2019, and spread to more than 100 cities across the country. The government, under the leadership of the Supreme Leader, responded by preventing Parliament from discussing, and possibly reversing, the petrol price increases. They ordered the security forces to crush the protests, and completely shut down the Internet.

Members of the security forces attacked and brutally beat the protesters and fired live bullets and teargas canisters to disperse participants. Snipers were also used to shoot and kill protesters who tried to defend themselves in, among others, Karaj (Alborz Province) Saveh (Markazi Province), Marivan (Kurdistan Province), Isfahan (Isfahan Province), Kermanshah (Kermanshah Province) Shiraz (Fars Province), Tehran, and Shahriyar (east of Tehran) between 16 and 18 November. Scores of protesters have been killed in various cities and provinces nationwide. To date, official sources have not provided the number of protesters killed, nor have they reported the exact number of protesters detained. FIDH, LDDHI, and DHRC fear that several hundred protesters may have been killed, but it is not possible to verify the exact number, owing to the government’s refusal to publicise the relevant information. The only information on the number of detainees has come from the semi-official Fars News Agency, which, on 18 November, quoting an unidentified official, reported that 1,000 protesters had been arrested from 15 to 18 November.

“The authorities must put an immediate end to the deadly suppression of the protests, immediately and unconditionally release all the detained protesters, and offer adequate reparations to the families of the victims.”

Karim Lahidji, LDDHI President and FIDH Honorary President

On 19 November, the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the Iranian authorities to avoid the use of force to disperse peaceful assemblies and to respect the right to freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful assembly and association, including by immediately re-establishing Iranians’ access to the Internet, as well as other forms of communication.

FIDH, LDDHI, and DHRC endorse OHCHR’s recommendations and further call on the international community, in particular the UN and the European Union (EU), to urge the Iranian authorities to co-operate with UN special procedures in order to facilitate an independent and impartial inquiry into the lethal force used by the security forces, identify the perpetrators, and bring them to justice.

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Ms. Eva Canan (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
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