Iran Says ‘Rioters’ Shot and Killed amid Protests


Iran security forces have shot and killed hundreds of unarmed protesters in many cities, all because they objected to rising gas prices.

The acknowledgment came in a television package on Tuesday that criticised worldwide Farsi-language channels for their reporting on the crisis, which began on November 15. Demonstrators angered by a 50% increase in government-set gasoline prices blocked traffic in major cities and occasionally clashed with police after a night of demonstrations punctuated by gunfire.

Amnesty International said the death toll is a "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".

Iranian authorities had confirmed five deaths during the unrest. Iranian leaders have refused to acknowledge those killings ever since.

The protests erupted in cities and towns across Iran on 15 November, after the government announced that the price of petrol would rise by 50% to 15,000 rials a litre ($0.12; £0.09 at the unofficial market exchange rate), and that drivers would be allowed to purchase only 60 litres each month before the price rose to 30,000 rials.

The number of deaths is "evidence that Iran's security forces went on a horrific killing spree", said Philip Luther, Amnesty's research and advocacy head for the Middle East, and called on the global community to ensure those responsible are held accountable. Iran's week-long Internet outage made it even harder to assess the loss of life.

"A number of exile groups (and media networks) have either taken credit for instigating both ordinary people to protest and riots, or have encouraged lawlessness and vandalism, or both", said Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman at the mission. It has disputed Amnesty's death toll reports as speculative but released none of its own figures for killed and wounded protesters.

Amnesty offered no breakdown for the deaths elsewhere in the country though it said "the real figure is likely to be higher".

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"We receive lots of information, sometimes from sources that we're unfamiliar with", Mansoureh said.

"The names they have given are also lies", Esmaili said, adding they included people who were still alive and others who passed away of natural causes.

The rights group said it had gathered information showing the families of victims had been warned not to speak to the media or hold funerals for their loved ones.

"Some families are also being forced to make extortionate payments to have the bodies of their loved ones returned to them", the watchdog said.

Trump added: "The word is that thousands of people are being killed in Iran that are protesting".

Whereas not drawing as many Iranians into the streets as these protesting the disputed 2009 presidential election, the gasoline worth demonstrations quickly turned violent quicker than any earlier rallies.

There are no statistics from the regime about the latest demonstrations but Amnesty International estimates more than 200 people have been killed by the government in a very short period of time.

Cars block a street during a protest against a rise in gasoline prices, in the central city of Isfahan, Iran, on November 16, 2019.