Amnesty International said that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) used lethal force unlawfully against unarmed fuel porters near Saravan, Sistan, and Baluchestan province, on February 22, which led to the deaths of at least 10 people.
Violation humans rights
The human rights charity said that this was a flagrant violation of the international ban on the arbitrary deprivation of the right to life, citing verified video footage and eyewitness testimony to determine that the IRGC used live ammunition against the porters, who were made up of the impoverished Baluchi minority.
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “By opening fire on a group of unarmed people, Iranian security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life.
There must be urgent, independent criminal investigations into these unlawful killings, in line with international law and standards. Anyone against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence must be prosecuted in a fair trial, without resorting to the death penalty.”
Mohamad Hadi Marashi, the deputy governor of Sistan and Baluchestan province, tried to defend the level of force by claiming that the “honour” of security forces was at risk, which only confirms that the level of force was unnecessary.
Eltahawy said that this reflects the regime’s “complete disregard for international standards on the use of firearms”, which should only be used to defend against death or serious injury.
In response to the outcry, the Military Prosecutor of Sistan and Baluchestan province said on February 26 that a case was opened, but even this is concerning because, under international law, military courts don’t have jurisdiction over human rights violations and there is not an independent judiciary in Iran.
Amnesty reported that relatives have told them that they are not allowed to secure an independent autopsy for those who died and are being pressured to bury them immediately, with some even having to sign forms saying that the IRGC is not responsible order to obtain the bodies.
The regime systematically attacks porters
The regime systematically attacks porters, who are just trying to make ends meet in the face of unbelievable poverty because they see them as a threat to the IRGC-run smuggling operation.
That’s why on February 20, the IRGC blocked the road to Saravan, leaving dozens of porters stranded near the border with Pakistan, with little food and water. Following two days of failed negotiations, some porters broke through the barrier, which is when the IRGC began firing.
Eltahawy said: “When security forces wilfully and unlawfully use firearms against unarmed people, they either intend to kill or do not care whether their actions are likely to cause death. In either case, under international law, the killings resulting from their unlawful actions are considered not accidental, but deliberate, and should, therefore, be investigated as extrajudicial executions.”