NEW YORK – The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s ongoing wave of deadly violence against dissidents and calls for an independent international investigation into these crimes. Tens of thousands of civilians have been protesting for economic and political reform since November 15, and security forces have responded with military tanks and live ammunition. These are the most deadly protests in Iran in 40 years.
More than 200 people are confirmed dead, with some reports indicating a death toll closer to 500. More than 2,000 people have been injured and upwards of 7,000 people have been detained. The initial crackdown was accompanied by a weeklong internet shutdown, casting the entire country into a media blackout that hindered international reporting on the unfolding crimes.
“The horrific violence against unarmed protesters has created an unprecedented crisis across Iran, which the regime has been trying to conceal,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the HRF. “We call on Iran’s leaders to stop this illegal use of force immediately. The international community must demand a full investigation into these deadly attacks on civilians who are demonstrating for basic human rights.”
While a surprise increase in fuel prices has been cited as the trigger of these recent protests, the animating force driving people into the streets seems to be the long-simmering frustration and resentment toward the regime as a result of decades of suffocating repression and corruption.
“The government has shut down the internet because they didn’t want the rest of the world to see the level of brutality inside Iran,” said Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist, activist, and Oslo Freedom Forum speaker. “The officials in Iran are using the internet and social media to mislead the rest of the world about the massacre. These officials should be banned from social media networks until the Iranian people have the same freedom of expression themselves.”
“Families of victims are desperately seeking support and justice, which they have no hope of getting in their own country,” said Masih, who has been interviewing numerous families of victims. “It is crucial to get their stories out to the world, collect evidence of the crimes and urgently call for an independent investigation as soon as possible.”
As the situation continues to unfold, HRF urges the international community to hold Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and regime officials accountable for the ongoing human rights violations and killings.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. For media inquiries, contact Natalia Ciolko at [email protected].