Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Iran protests: Over 100 believed killed in security force crackdown

Amnesty says 106 protesters have been killed, while three security force members are also said to have been killed by 'rioters' near Tehran

Iranians gather around a smouldering police station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in petrol prices in the central city of Isfahan on November 17, 2019. AFP
Iranians gather around a smouldering police station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in petrol prices in the central city of Isfahan on November 17, 2019. AFP

More than 100 demonstrators are believed to have been killed across Iran since leaders ordered security forces to stamp out protests triggered by fuel price rises, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

"At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, according to credible reports," the London-based rights group said.

It added that "the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed".

Three members of the Iranian security forces were also stabbed to death by “rioters” near Tehran, the ISNA and Fars news agencies reported late on Monday.

The assailants wielding knives and machetes ambushed the three – a Revolutionary Guard and two members of the Basij militia – west of the capital, they said.

The deaths take to at least five the number of people confirmed to have been killed in violent demonstrations that erupted across Iran on Friday against a surprise petrol price hike.

One of the three was identified as Morteza Ebrahimi, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and father of a newborn child, said Fars.

The other two were Majid Sheikhi, 22, and Mostafa Rezaie, 33. Both served in the Basij militia, a volunteer force loyal to the establishment.

State television said a ceremony would be held for Ebrahimi and Rezaie in Tehran on Tuesday afternoon.

Iranian authorities tried to suggest on Tuesday that protests had calmed down.

But social media videos posted in defiance of an Internet block showed protests continued in several cities on Monday night, however, and a heavy presence of security forces in streets. The images posted on social media could not be verified.

"Calm has been restored in the country," Iran's judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told a news conference.

Ongoing protests across the country have killed at least five people and put renewed pressure on Iran’s government as it struggles to overcome US sanctions.

The full scale of the protests, which began shortly after a 50 per cent increase in gas prices took effect early on Friday, remains unknown after Tehran shut down the internet at the weekend, blocking Iranians from sharing videos and information with the outside world.

A hard-line newspaper in Iran suggested on Tuesday that those who led violent protests will be executed by hanging as the unrest continues.

An article published in the Keyhan newspaper made the claim, though Iranian authorities still have not offered a detailed accounting of the toll of the demonstrations that began Friday over government-set gasoline prices rising.

The newspaper said: "Some reports say that judiciary considers execution by hanging for the riot leaders a definite punishment."

It did not elaborate.

The protests appeared to be ongoing on Tuesday in some areas of the country, though the streets of Tehran appeared largely calm.

Updated: November 19, 2019 09:30 PM

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