Published: Wed, December 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

'At Least 208' Killed In Iran Unrest, Says Amnesty International

'At Least 208' Killed In Iran Unrest, Says Amnesty International

Iranian state TV has said security forces killed what it called "thugs and rioters" during last month's mass protests against a petrol price rise.

A little over two weeks ago, protests were sparked by eyewatering gas price hikes, and morphed into nationwide anti-government demonstrations. Citing opposition groups, global rights organizations and local journalists, The New York Times has reported that at least 180, and possibly 450 or more, people could have been killed during the four-day period beginning November 15.

No official death toll has been released but Tehran has rejected a report from Amnesty International which claims at least 208 people have been killed by security forces since the protests began.

The Arab population of the surrounding oil-rich province long has complained of discrimination by Iran's central government, and insurgent groups have attacked oil pipelines there. After a monthly 60-liter quota, it costs 30,000 rials a liter.

Tehran has given no official death toll, but Amnesty International said on Monday it had documented the deaths of at least 208 protesters, making the disturbances the bloodiest since the 1979 uprising that swept Shi'ite clerics to power.

It also acknowledged killings in Tehran and in its suburb Shahriar, where Amnesty said it had recently learned of "dozens" of deaths.

Cheap gasoline is widely expected by consumers in Iran, home to the world's fourth-largest crude oil reserves.

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The government had previously acknowledged the deaths of only a handful of people and continues to decline to give an official estimate of the total number killed, but officials in the country have talked publicly in recent days of ordering security forces to fire on demonstrators trying to storm government buildings.

She said: "The authorities have been threatening families, some have been forced to sign undertakings that they won't speak to the media".

Authorities also have been visiting hospitals, looking for patients with gunshot wounds or other injuries from the unrest, Mills said. That's almost 24 cents a litre or 90 cents a gallon.

Iran's United Nations mission in NY called Amnesty's findings "unsubstantiated", without elaborating. An average gallon of regular gas in the U.S. costs $2.58 by comparison, according to AAA.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday called for the release of any unarmed, innocent people detained during widespread protests over fuel prices, in which hundreds have been killed by authorities and accused Israel of "inciting" sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.

Iran's per capita gross domestic product, often used as a rough sense of a nation's standard of living, is just over $6,000, compared with over $62,000 in the US, according to the World Bank. New York-based Human Rights Watch estimated that up to 7,000 people were arrested. That disparity, especially given Iran's oil wealth, fueled the anger felt by demonstrators.

Iran has faced growing global criticism and pressure over the security force crackdown on demonstrations that spread across at least 100 cities and towns throughout the Islamic Republic in mid-November.

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