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How many people died in Iran’s nationwide uprisings?

Iran's regime is trying to downplay the crime it committed by killing 1,500 protesters in November 2019
Iran's regime is trying to downplay the crime it committed by killing 1,500 protesters in November 2019

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, June 3, 2020—Six months after the Iranian regime led a bloody crackdown against nationwide protests, interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli tacitly announced on Saturday that only 200-250 people were killed in the protests. In contrast, according to information obtained by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), during the first few days of the uprising, security forces killed at least 1,500 protesters and made more than 12,000 arrests.

The protests began in November after regime suddenly imposed 300-percent hike on the price of gasoline. During the protests, the ministry of communications shut down Iran’s access across the country to resort the most bloody and coldblooded crackdown in the past 40 years away from the eyes of the world.

“They (the enemy) announced that 10,000 people were killed, 8,000 were killed, 7,000, 6,000. They even mentioned 2,000,” Rahmani Fazli said to state television on Saturday. “God willing, we will announce the figures in the next few days. The fatalities are not in these ranges at all. I want to say that 20 percent of the toll, somewhere between 40 and 45 of the victims have been registered as martyrs. They were innocent and happened to be in streets and were killed by weapons and tactics that are not employed by the State Security Forces or other government agencies.”

So outrageous were Rahmani Fazli’s comments, that the regime’s own officials rejected them. On Monday, June 1, the new head of the Majlis (parliament) Security Commission, Mojtaba Zolnour, ridiculed Rahmani Fazli’s remarks and said, “2,000 people on the scene and 5,000 officers were injured and the death toll was 230? In the last six months, five people have been identified every four days! Did it take six months of silence and several promises of ‘soon to be announced’ to identify the 230 killed?”

The facts speak for themselves

  1. From day one, the reports of the Minister of Interior, the head of the Security Commission of the Majlis, and the propaganda apparatus of the mullahs’ system was based on organized censorship and lying about the scale of the uprising crackdown. The Daily Mostaghel acknowledged on February 18, 2020: “None of the state-sponsored press and news agencies were allowed to broadcast accurate news. That's why they implicitly lost their media authority in the country."
  2. The regime tries to use the coronavirus situation to cover-up the crime against humanity during November nationwide protests and downsize the high death toll to lift internal and international pressure. In the last six months, the regime has been looking for an opportunity to complete this cover-up. This opportunity was discussed within the establishment in the last few months and the regime wanted to announce it after the sham parliamentary elections of February 21. The daily Jahan-e Sanat wrote in this regard on February 18: “Officials of the establishment have postponed the announcement (of the death toll) to after the elections. But will announcing the numbers after all this time convince the public opinion?”
  3. A day before the February 21 legislative elections, the government spokesperson said: “This statistic will be announced in the next few days. In other places in the world, this statistic is usually announced by coroner. In this regard a decision has been made and it will be announced by one of the responsible institutions within the next few days." (Source: Iran daily, February 20, 2020)
  4. Therefore, we can conclude that the "decision-making" to announce the statistics took place before the sham elections of February 21, and everything was ready at that time. But to take advantage of coronavirus conditions, the regime announced it three months later on May 30. According to the government spokesperson, the numbers of the death should be announced by the coroner. So why did a political and governmental body announce the statistic and not the coroner? The coroner had stated that it could not keep count of the high number of corpses. What this implicitly means is that, since everything is registered at coroner, they can’t justify a 600-700-percent reduction to the statistics.

  1. Reuters reported on December 23, 2019: “About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 1” But regime president Hassan Rouhani denied Reuters’ numbers in a conference on  February 17, 2020, and said that the “numbers are much lower than this.” This mean, Rouhani knew on February 17 what statistics were supposed to be announced. So why is it announced in late May? In this regard, the Daily Mostaghel wrote on February 18, in which it stated: “Rouhani said the death toll was much lower than the number reported by Reuters. If we assume Rouhani's statement to be true, why didn't the government provide the statistics after three months?"

 

  1. In this six-month of purposeful and long investigations, which delegation of independent Iranian representatives and international legal and human rights bodies has the Ministry of Interior used as reference?
  2. One thing missing from the report of the chairman of the parliamentary security commission and the interior minister is the role of the victims' families in the investigation in determining the exact number of casualties. Every family knows whether their loved ones or relative is injured or killed during the November uprising and has or does not have a grave. The final report of the interior ministry has not mentioned the main reference which are the victims’ families. In contrast to the astronomical lies of the minister of interior, there are families all over Iran who do not confirm the these outrageously reduced numbers and lies and consider it as an affront and the continuation of crimes and betrayal by the clerical regime.

  1. A letter by the coroner to the minister of interior in February states: “The bodies of the dead were distributed in dozens of morgues, and the high number and lack of space has become a problem.” The question is, does keeping the bodies of 230 people require "dozens of morgues?”
  2. MEK announced on December 16, 2019, that the number of protesters killed during the November 2019 uprising exceeded the 1,500 mark. The MEK published the names of 765 of these killed civilians and has sent it to human rights organizations and international institutions and called for an investigation into these undeniable facts. The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has consistently emphasized that the November 2019 massacre was a crime against humanity and that the regime’s leaders and officials must be prosecuted and held accountable by an international tribunal. If the claims of regime officials about 230 deaths are true, it must publish the names and photos of these 230 victims and call on the families of the victims to declare the names and photos of their children or relatives who died in the November uprising.
  3. On December 31, regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei described the protesters “as group of thugs affiliated to foreign services.” So, it is not a surprise that his loyal officials announce these fake numbers after six months. On January 2, 200 of Khamenei’s allies wrote an open letter to him in which they wrote: “The response to the protests in November has painted this picture about the government for the world to see: We are an establishment that does not allow any serious criticism by non-governmental media and the people are not allowed to protest in any way and at any time and place and if these people take to the streets and protest, and sometimes express their protest with anger, they will have to expect our bullets.... We dispute the fact that after about 40 days of the incident, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies have not released any exact statistics on the number of people who were killed, while unofficial statistics are astonishing and catastrophic.”

During the November protests, many images and video footage were spread on social media showing security forces and the regime’s plainclothes agents opening fire on protesters who were chanting "The supreme leader lives like a God. We, the people, live like beggars."

Various videos show security forces using live ammunition and firearms, water cannons and tear gas against the protests and beating them with batons.

On December 24, the State-run ISNA news agency published a report that indicated a heavy security presence after the regime’s repressive forces conducted a widespread massacre of civilians during the November protests.

Following are excerpts from ISNA’s report: “The sounds of protests in Mahshar were heard about four days after the main events… We went to Mahshar on December 5th and 6th to compile this report. Witnesses say Mahshahr and all its surrounding towns, including Chamran, Gama, Taleghani, Sarbandar, Madani, and Rajai’i were involved in the protests. But the people didn’t allow the protests to be pulled into the towns.

“Most of the people who have lost family members in the incidents are not inclined to interview… If the family members of a victim or a witness want to interview, they have to coordinate with some authority… Some say they must coordinate with a friend or acquaintance while others explicitly name security authorities. They say that the families have been told to be careful about who wants to interview them.

On December 1, 2019, Leila Vatheghi, governor of Ghale Hasan Khan (Qods city), located west of Tehran, acknowledged ordering security forces to shoot and kill protesters. “I had ordered security forces to shoot and kill anyone who entered through the gates of the governor’s building,” she said. Reports indicate security forces opened fire on protesters based on Vatheghi’s orders, killing and injuring dozens.

On December 15, 2019, the MEK had at least 400 have been killed in Tehran, 320 in Kermanshah, 270 in Fars, 240 in Khuzestan, 120 in Isfahan, and 100 in Alborz (Karaj).

On the same day, NCRI President Maryam Rajavi described the November uprising massacre by the mullahs’ regime as a shocking crime. “Over 1,500 killed in the Iranian people’s nationwide uprising. This shocking crime is undoubtedly one of the most horrific crimes of the 21st century and by any measure amounts to a manifest case of crimes against humanity,” Madam Rajavi added.

NCRI President Rajavi had also called on the United Nations to condemn this monstrous crime and demanded the urgent dispatching of a fact-finding mission to Iran to visit detention centers and those arrested.  Madam Rajavi is calling for a Security Council session to address this horrific crime and to hold to account the leaders of the religious fascism ruling Iran.