Iran carries out ‘ruthless’ crackdown on protests: HRW
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian authorities have ruthlessly cracked down on widespread anti-government protests with excessive and lethal force throughout Iran, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday.
“The Iranian authorities’ brutal response to protests across many cities indicates concerted action by the government to crush dissent with cruel disregard for life,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, in the report.
“The security forces’ widespread shooting of protesters only serves to fuel anger against a corrupt and autocratic government.”
“Concerned governments should cooperate to increase pressure on Iran and undertake a United Nations-led independent inquiry into serious abuses committed during the protests and recommend avenues for holding those responsible to account,” the report said.
“We had gathered to chant, [when] security forces on motorcycles came toward us,” said a 35-year-old year woman from Sanandaj city to HRW about a protest that took place near the Gendarmerie (Palestine) intersection on Sept 17.
“We ran toward the alley as they followed us and started throwing teargas and some started shooting bullets. A man behind us was shot in the leg and fell on the ground. People dragged him into another alley and inside someone’s home. [...] His wound was bleeding very heavily and was very deep.”
Human Rights Watch also reviewed and verified four videos of security forces firing at crowds of protesters, some fleeing.
A woman in Saghez city, in Kurdistan province, said that on September 18, the second day of the protests in the city, security forces shot at their group of protesters when her friend started filming security personnel striking their batons at a house’s metal door, forcing them to seek refuge inside a nearby house.
“After some time when we felt that it was safe, we left the house, but security forces were hiding behind the trees at the end of the street and started shooting at us from behind as we were running away,” she told HRW.
Moreover, the woman also said that on October 1, she saw security forces attacking a group of women peacefully protesting in Sanandaj with metal cables and batons.
Protests began on September 16, 2022, after the 22-year-old Kurd Jina Amini’s died at the hands of Iran’s morality police.
Human Rights Watch also compiled the names of 47 individuals whom documented as having been killed, most by bullets. These included at least nine children, two of them girls, and six women.
The total death toll by Iranian human rights groups are much higher.
The BBC reported that the death toll resulting from clashes between security personnel and anti-government protesters in the south-eastern city of Zahedan had risen to 83 on Tuesday.
The Independent earlier reported that over 130 were killed.
Read More: Amnesty warns of further bloodshed in Iran
Amnesty International on Sept 24 also said that the "rising death toll is an alarming indication of just how ruthless the Iranian authorities’ assault on human life has been under the darkness of the internet shutdown."
"UN member states must urgently set up an independent investigative mechanism," the organization said.