The governor of Khuzestan in Iran has denied that the Islamic Republic security forces killed dozens of protesters during the widespread anti-regime unrest in November in a marshland near the city of Mahshahr.
Dismissing the mass killing as "fake news," Gholamreza Shari'ati said, "We have never had such thing as marshland [incident]."
"The marshland that they refer to is fundamentally a fake issue; it is an essentially false case in fact. We have never had a marshland issue or similar events," Shari'ati told the state-run Ensaf News on Instagram, Monday, June 15.
The mid-November protests shook more than 100 cities across Iran, including the city of Mahshahr in the oil-rich Khuzestan province.
Based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces stormed the township of Chamran and surrounding roads in Mahshahr on November 18, 2019.
As the protesters ran away and took refuge in a nearby marshland, the IRGC forces, armed with heavy machine guns, chased and showered them with bullets.
Numerous reports have been published so far about the massacre, including by Radio Farda and the New York Times.
Even the representative of Mahshahr in parliament rose up screaming and crying during a session in November about the widespread killings.
While providing shocking details of the attack, an eyewitness told Radio Farda that none of the people who had taken refuge in the marshland survived.
Nonetheless, Shari'ati, the controversial governor of Khuzestan has reiterated that such an event never happened, and there had been no "marshland" clashes.
Branding those who have reported about the massacre as "malicious" individuals with "grudges" against the country and its regime, Shariati maintained, "these people have problems with the establishment."
Dismissing all accounts and details so far given about the massacre, Shari'ati claimed, "We asked them to name fifty out of the 300 presumed dead in the event; give us forty names, identify thirty of them [but received no response]."
However, when Ensaf News interviewer challenged the Governor to disclose the death toll, Shariati notes, "I cannot do that. The relevant and responsible entities will finally announce the number, if necessary. But the event is fake and non-existent."
Nonetheless, Amnesty International (AI) notes that the death toll in the November protests is high, adding that it gradually releases the names of people confirmed killed during the protest rallies.
So far, AI has published the names of thirty people killed in Mahshahr and said that its investigation is underway to identify the other victims.
In the meantime, Reuters cited sources within the Islamic Republic's government as saying that the total number of deaths in November protests across Iran was estimated at 1,500.
However, Islamic Republic officials have denied the Reuters report as well as all other reports. Recently some officials mentioned figures around 200 or less, but so far no official numbers have been released.