Iran state television has admitted for the first time they have shot and killed Iranian citizens they describe as “rioters” who were protesting the spike in government set gasoline prices.
Amnesty international estimates the death toll at over 200, and the NY Times estimates the number to be between 180-450 and possibly more, with at least 2,000 wounded.
Per The Guardian, onTuesday, Iranian television said those killed included rioters who had attacked sensitive or military centres with firearms or knives or who had taken hostages in some areas. The report said passersby, security forces and peaceful protesters were also killed, without assigning blame for their deaths.
The government had previously acknowledged the deaths of only a handful of people and continues to decline to give an official estimate of the total number killed, but officials in the country have talked publicly in recent days of ordering security forces to fire on demonstrators trying to storm government buildings.
An internet blackout, still in place in parts of the country, has slowed the release of information about the protests and the subsequent crackdown but media and NGO reports in recent days have given a glimpse of the situation.
The state TV report said security forces had confronted rioters in the south-central city of Shiraz, where videos and interviews with activists have revealed mass demonstrations that were met with a violent response and led to the burning of several official buildings and the confirmed deaths of 16 people.
It also acknowledged killings in Tehran and in its suburb Shahriar, where Amnesty said it had recently learned of “dozens” of deaths.
In another case, the report said security forces confronted a separatist group in the city of Mahshahr armed with “semi-heavy” weapons. It claimed the armed rioters, from an oil-rich area whose mainly Arab population frequently complain of discrimination by the central government, fought with security personnel for hours.
Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East research and advocacy director, said the death toll so far was “further evidence that Iran’s security forces went on a horrific killing spree”. “Those responsible for this bloody clampdown on demonstrations must be held accountable for their actions,” he said.
The NYTimes reported, altogether, from 180 to 450 people, and possibly more, were killed in four days of intense violence after the gasoline price increase was announced on Nov. 15, with at least 2,000 wounded and 7,000 detained, according to international rights organizations, opposition groups and local journalists.
The last enormous wave of protests in Iran — in 2009 after a contested election, which was also met with a deadly crackdown — left 72 people dead over a much longer period of about 10 months.
Only now, nearly two weeks after the protests were crushed — and largely obscured by an internet blackout in the country that was lifted recently — have details corroborating the scope of killings and destruction started to dribble out.