In the most detailed report so far on the deadly mid-November anti-Islamic Republic protests in Iran, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called upon the United Nations to take "urgent action" to address the "brutal crackdown" on the people during the uprising.
"Iranian authorities have failed to hold security forces accountable for excessive and unlawful use of lethal force in confronting large-scale protests that began on November 15, 2019. Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council should take urgent action to address the brutal crackdown," HRW said in a report on Tuesday, February 25.
Referring to brutal suppression of protests in the Iranian capital city, Tehran and more than 100 cities across the country, HRW said, "Interviews with victims and witnesses, a review of photos and videos from the protests, and satellite imagery analysis strongly suggest that security forces used unlawful lethal force on at least three occasions."
The protests, triggered by an overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices on November 15, 2019, soon turned into a four-day widespread anti-Islamic Republic uprising in 29 out of 31 provinces across Iran.
More than three months later, the Islamic Republic has not yet officially announced the death toll and the number of injured or detained protesters.
In an unprecedented move, the law enforcement units, backed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and armed plainclothesmen, used "war weapons" against the unarmed protesters.
Based on documents collected and interviews with witnesses, HRW has referred to a massacre in two townships, Taleqani (Taleghani) and Chamran, Mahshahr County, in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan.
"Videos posted to social media show tanks being deployed in Taleghani town and a pickup truck equipped with an automatic weapon in Chamran," HRW reports, adding, "The video showing a vehicle with an automatic weapon in Chamran appeared online on December 3, 2019. The exact location of where the video was recorded was identified by France 24 as part of a detailed investigation it conducted into the protests and crackdown."
“Iranian authorities have systematically repressed dissent for decades, and they are now confronting popular protests with an astonishing level of violence," said deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Michael Page, adding, "Principled international voices should send an unequivocal message that Iran cannot get away with killing protesters."
The Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been quoted as saying that families of people killed who had not been protesting should be compensated, and that detained protesters should be treated with what he called "Islamic mercy," but, HRW asserts, "However, nothing in Khamenei's response to the events suggests that the security forces will be investigated for their excessive and unlawful use of force. Moreover, according to several media outlets, prison authorities have beaten and abused detained protesters. There are also reports of Iran's revolutionary courts sentencing at least three arrested protesters to death."
Meanwhile, HRW has lambasted the Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani for describing the protests as "riots," a term used by the Iranian authorities to dismiss the uprising.