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Rouhani Adviser Claims President Not Been Given Clear Report On November Protests Death Toll

Iran -- Iran President Adviser, Hesamoddin Ashena
Iran -- Iran President Adviser, Hesamoddin Ashena

President Hassan Rouhani's Media Adviser Hesamoddin Ashena has claimed that security authorities have yet not presented a "clear and defendable report" on the death toll of the protests in November 2019,

In an interview published in the Andishe-ye Pouya bi-monthly journal on Saturday, Ashena said President Rouhani "is not a person who says kill people,” adding that "he has not been given a [definitive] report on this [incident].

The Rouhani advisor also claimed that the Law Enforcement Force, Interior Ministry and Health Ministry have all given different accounts of the death toll to the president but has not stated which body is responsible for the final report.

The protests in November 2019 began after the government increased the price of gasoline by 200 percent without prior notice. When nationwide protests broke out, the government attempted to conceal the violent crackdown on protesters by imposing a news blackout and shutting down the Internet for several days.

Despite the Iranian public’s demands, Iranian officials have not released any official figures on the death toll of the protests or the number of people who were arrested during the unrest.

On May 31, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli put the death toll of November protests at between 200 to 225, while lawmaker Mojtaba Zolnour was quoted two days later by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) as saying 230 people had been killed during the protests. Both figures are far less than reports and estimates by international news agencies, human rights organizations and the United States.

In a report in December 2019, Reuters quoted sources close to Khamenei's inner circle who claimed that 1,500 Iranians had been killed in the protests, based on information gathered from security forces, morgues, hospitals and coroner’s offices. At the time, Khamenei allegedly told the security forces in a public meeting to "do whatever is necessary to stop" the protests, the sources said.

That figure was much higher than Amnesty International’s estimate number of deaths, which stood at 304. Iranian authorities have vehemently denied these figures.