Amnesty raises to 304 number of Iranians killed in protests

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Amnesty International said yesterday that at least 304 people were killed in last month’s anti-government protests in Iran, a significantly higher number than what the rights group had reported previously.

The protests, which lasted about four days in several cities and towns in Iran in November, were sparked by a sharp rise in gasoline prices.

During the violence and in the days that followed, Iranian authorities blocked access to the Internet.

Amnesty said that Iranian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing scores. Iranian authorities subsequently arrested thousands of protesters as well as journalists, human rights defenders and students in a sweeping crackdown to prevent them from speaking up about the protests, the London-based watchdog said.

Tehran has yet to release any statistics about the scale of the unrest, though two weeks ago the government acknowledged that the security forces shot and killed protesters. Iranian state media referred to some of those shot and killed as “rioters”.

Amnesty said earlier this month that at least 208 were killed in the November 15-18 protests. It did not provide an explanation for the new and higher death toll, reiterating that it had spoken to dozens of people inside the country and had compiled credible reports.

People walk past buildings burnt during recent protests, in Shahriar, Iran. PHOTO: AP