Iranian regime’s brutality during November 2019 uprising must be addressed

Last November, the people of Iran held an uprising that spread the whole way across the country. It was sparked by a massive hike in fuel prices, but it went much deeper than this one economic grievance.

For decades, the regime has been plundering the nation’s wealth, supressing the rights of the people and meddling abroad. The people are always the ones that pay the ultimate price for the regime’s belligerence and they were saying that they have had enough and that they will do all in their power to see the regime collapse.

Since the beginning of the uprising that started in November last year, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK), the main opposition to the Iranian regime, tracked the deaths – compiling names of those that died. In December, the (PMOI / MEK) reported that more than 1,500 protesters had been killed by the repressive security forces. This number will surely be even higher now considering the number of people that were left with extensive injuries.

At the weekend, the Interior Minister of Iran Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said during an interview that a maximum of 255 people had died during the November 2019 uprising. This is despite several officials of the Ministry of the Interior saying last year that 1,500 people had died.

The Interior Minister tried to downplay just how violent the regime’s reaction to the uprising was, even suggesting that a fifth of the 255 deaths he mentioned were not even caused by the regime, rather by the people themselves, saying that the cause of death was from non-standard weapons.

However much he tries to downplay the truth, the fact of the matter is that many people died as a result of brutality on the part of the authorities. This can only be considered a crime against humanity, even if it were the case that only a few hundred were killed. Trying to convince everyone that the scale of brutality was much less than it was does not mean that it should be treated any less like a crime.

It is the responsibility of the international community to act accordingly. Such a crime on the part of a government against its people cannot be ignored. Indeed, the international community has largely turned a blind eye to many of the regime’s crimes, but this cannot continue.

Countless videos have been circulating on social media showing the violence the protesters were met with. Despite this very clear evidence, the Interior Minister said during his interview that there were no confrontations between armed forces and unarmed protesters.

At the time, the regime even imposed an internet blackout that lasted for a number of days. It was an attempt to stop the uprising growing bigger and an attempt to stop information and news disseminating.

Amnesty International has already spoken out about the suppression the people faced during the uprising, with its Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa describing the events as a “killing spree” by the security forces who displayed “sheer ruthlessness”.

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