The bravery of protesters facing a spiralling deadly response by the Iranian security forces after the death of Mahsa Amini reveals the extent of outrage in Iran over abusive compulsory veiling laws, unlawful killings, and widespread repression.
With the death toll reaching at least 40 people, four of them children, Amnesty reiterates its calls for urgent global action, warning of the risk of further bloodshed amid a deliberately imposed internet black out.
On the night of 21 September alone, shootings by security forces left at least 19 people dead, including at least three children. Amnesty has reviewed photos and videos showing deceased victims with horrifying wounds in their heads, chests and stomachs.
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:
“The rising death toll is an alarming indication of just how ruthless the authorities’ assault on human life has been under the darkness of the internet shutdown.
“The anger expressed on the streets shows how Iranians feel about the so-called ‘morality police’ and compulsory veiling laws. It’s high time for these discriminatory laws and the security forces enforcing them to be completely removed from Iranian society, once and for all.
“UN member states must go beyond toothless statements, hear the cries for justice from victims and human rights defenders in Iran and urgently set up an independent UN investigative mechanism”.
Amnesty has recorded the names of 19 people including three children shot dead by security forces on 21 September. The deaths of a further two people, including a 16-year-old bystander, have also been confirmed on 22 September. Further deaths are being investigated.
Echoing growing frustration at the international community’s failure to take meaningful action to address successive waves of protest killings in Iran, the father of Milan Haghigi, a 21-year-old man killed by security forces on 21 September, told Amnesty:
“People expect the UN to defend us and the protesters. I, too, can condemn [the Iranian authorities], the whole world can condemn them but to what end is this condemnation?”
According to eyewitness accounts, security forces involved in the deadly shootings include Revolutionary Guards agents, paramilitary Basij forces and plainclothes security officials. These security forces have fired live ammunition at protesters with the intention of dispersing, intimidating and punishing them or preventing them from entering state buildings. This is prohibited under international law which restricts the use of firearms to instances where their use is necessary in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only when less extreme means are insufficient.
In addition to the 19 people killed on 21 September, Amnesty has recorded the names of two other people killed by security forces in Dehdasht, Kohgilouyeh and Bouyer Ahmad province on 22 September, including a 16-year-old bystander.
Since nation-wide protests were triggered by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa (Zhina) Amini after being violently arrested by Iran’s morality police in connection with discriminatory and degrading compulsory veiling laws, Amnesty has recorded the names of 30 people killed by security forces: 22 men, four women and four children. Amnesty believes the real death toll is higher and investigating further.
Deaths were recorded in Alborz, Esfahan, Ilam, Kohgilouyeh and Bouyer Ahmad; Kermanshah; Kurdistan, Manzandan; Semnan; Tehran, West Azerbaijan provinces.