Iran suggests up to 225 killed in November protests

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Aug 23, 2017
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Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli speaks during a press conference in Tehran. /AP

Iran's Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has suggested that up to 225 people were killed in November protests, ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.

The anti-government protests erupted across thecountry in November 2019 after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent.

The protests erupted on November 15 in several cities and rapidly spread to at least 100 cities and towns, with petrol pumps torched, police stations attacked and shops looted, before being put down by security forces amid a near-total internet blackout.

Over half a year later, officials in Iran are yet to issue an overall death toll for the unrest. But on Sunday Fazli indicated that, according to the government, about 200 to 225 people were killed in the violence.

"Sad things happened. About 40 or 45 people, meaning around 20 percent of those killed, were shot with non-standard issue weapons and martyred," he said. No armed confrontation with the people happened, but when they attacked a police station, they had to be confronted, he added.

A group of independent UN rights experts said in December that unconfirmed reports claimed more than 400 people could have been killed in the crackdown. The experts said at the time at least 12 of those killed were children.

They claimed that reports and footage showed security forces "not only fired live ammunition at unarmed protesters, but also aimed at their heads and vital organs."

Iran has blamed the violence during the protests on "thugs" backed by its foes the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia. It has singled out exiled royalists and the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), an exiled former rebel group it considers a "terrorist cult."

The minister said the petrol price hike had been "just an excuse" for creating chaos as foes had wanted a "civil war" in Iran. He also defended the internet blackout, saying that the MEK, monarchists and the terrorist group ISIL were "giving military training through the internet."
 

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