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Former Iran Lawmaker Says Nobody Dared Disclose November Protests Death Toll

Protests in Iran in November 2019 left hundreds dead. Protesters in Marivan in Kurdistan province. FILE PHOTO

After a sitting member of the Iranian Parliament on Monday made an announcement about the death toll of the November protests, a former lawmaker said members of the previous of the parliament did not dare disclose the numbers because it was treated as a "security issue".

Mahmoud Sadeqi (Sadeghi) who was not allowed to run in the elections for the new parliament said various committees of the previous parliament tried many times to make officials announce the death toll and even attempted to impeach the Interior Minister but did not succeed. "I had heard that the death toll was 249 or 250 which is closer to what the Interior Minister and Amnesty International have said."

Mojtaba Zolnur (Zonnouri), a member of parliament from Qom on Monday told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that during November 2019 protests 230 people were killed. He also claimed that six of those killed were police officers and 20 percent were volunteers – presumably Basij militia members -- working alongside the security forces on the ground.

Zolnur's claims put the number of security elements among those killed in November at 52, leaving only 178 civilians among the dead. He claims that his numbers are based on figures provided by the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (forensics department).

Nearly seven months after the protests Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli on Saturday for the first time implicitly said that the number of those killed was around 200. He also admitted that 80 percent of those killed were shot at by security forces.

Amnesty International has documented at least 324 deaths . A Reuters report at the time quoted source from within the Interior Ministry as saying the number of those killed by security forces was as high as 1,500 because Khamenei had ordered "to do whatever it takes" to quell the unrest.

Government officials vehemently denied the Reuters report but has never made an official announcement of the death toll. Zolnur's statement is the closest to an official statement that has been made so far.