Iran: International investigation urged as protest death toll nears 200‎

AFP

Paris, 8 October 2022. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) call for ‎the establishment of an international independent investigation into the death of Ms. Mahsa ‎‎(Jina/Zhina) Amini and the use of deadly force by Iranian security forces against protesters across the ‎country.‎

To 8 October 2022, the crackdown on protesters has resulted in the killing of at least 193 people, including 18 ‎children, the injury of many others, and the arrest and detention of hundreds of predominantly ‎peaceful protesters and civil society activists who demanded justice and accountability for the death of ‎Ms. Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in custody of the morality police in Tehran on 16 ‎September 2022.‎ [1]

Detainees include a large number of human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists, ‎lawyers, and activists.‎ [2]

Ms. Amini’s death in police custody on 16 September 2022 sparked widespread protests across the ‎country. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in major cities, such as Tehran, Mashhad, ‎Isfahan, Tabriz, and many other localities. During two weeks, many universities have ‎witnessed large-scale demonstrations and targeted in brutal attacks by security forces. In october 2022, high school students in several cities also joined the protests and in some instances forced ‎government’s education officials out of their schools.‎

The protests, which began with demands of justice for Ms. Amini, the abolition of the morality police’s ‎patrols, and the abolition of mandatory hijab, have now become a movement for freedom and ‎democracy. [3] ‎ In many instances, women have been at the forefront of the protests. Many of them have ‎removed their hijab, burned their headscarves, and cut their hair. Some women wearing the hijab and ‎full length chador have also joined the protests.‎

Police and plainclothes agents have brutally cracked down on protesters, using live ammunition, pellets, ‎tear gas, water cannons, and batons to suppress the demonstrations. They have also used ambulances ‎to transport some of their personnel or the detainees.‎

On 30 September 2022, people gathered in front of a police station in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and ‎Baluchistan Province, after Friday prayers at a nearby site to demand accountability for the rape of a ‎‎15-year-old girl by a police commander in the province’s city of Chabahar, and to join the nationwide ‎protests. According to media reports, security forces opened fire from the rooftop on the crowd and ‎on some people who were still engaged in their prayers nearby. As a result, tens of people were killed. ‎A number of other people were also killed in the city in the following days. Many of the victims were ‎shot in the head and heart, most likely by snipers. Official sources reported the deaths of six members ‎of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in Zahedan, but the circumstances of their deaths are ‎unclear.‎

The League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) has recorded names of at least 193 protesters killed in various cities, including at least 18 ‎children. [4] This death toll includes 85 victims killed in Zahedan alone, including six children, according to ‎documentation by Baluch activists. The actual protest death toll is likely higher, as many victims have ‎not been identified yet and sufficient information is not available to corroborate reports of some ‎deaths.‎

Killings of protesters during previous large-scale demonstrations still remain unaccounted for. ‎Hundreds of mainly peaceful protesters were shot dead during food protests in December 2017 and ‎January 2018 and in petrol protests in November 2019. Investigations into those atrocities are also ‎long overdue.‎

Our organisations also urge the European Union (EU) to impose targeted sanctions on the officials ‎responsible for the brutal suppression of protesters and reiterate their call [5] for the international ‎community to press the Iranian authorities to comply with their obligations under international human ‎rights law and to respect women’s rights, including, but not limited to, by:

‎- repealing Articles 638 and 639 of the Islamic Penal Code;
- decriminalising the non-wearing of the ‎headscarf and accepting women’s right to choose their own clothing;
- dismantling the morality ‎police; and
- ending gender-based persecution and discrimination as a whole, in law as enshrined in ‎the Constitution, the Civil Code, and other laws, and in practice.‎

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