Video evidence appears to show Iranian security forces 'shooting to kill' protesters after demonstrations broke out, UN says

FILE PHOTO: People walk near a burnt bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran November 20, 2019. Picture taken November 20, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS/File Photo

  • Iranian security forces have shot at protesters from helicopters and a rooftop and have aimed at peoples' heads in using "severe violence" to quell anti-government unrest last month, the UN said.
  • UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement Friday that verified video footage appears to show "security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away, and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs - in other words shooting to kill."
  • Security forces have used water cannon, tear gas, batons, and live fire against unarmed demonstrators who posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury, the statement said.
  • The unrest began on November 15 after the government abruptly raised fuel prices and rapidly spread to over 100 cities and towns. The protests turned political with young and working-class protesters demanding clerical leaders step down.
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Iranian security forces have shot at protesters from helicopters and a rooftop and have aimed at peoples' heads in using "severe violence" to quell anti-government unrest last month, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Friday.

The UN Human Rights Office has received information indicating that at least 208 people have been killed, including 13 women and 12 children, during the demonstrations and at least 7,000 people arrested, the statement said.Advertisement

However, the senior US diplomat for Iran said on Thursday that Iranian security forces may have killed more than 1,000 people, according to unconfirmed reports.

Bachelet said verified video footage appears to show "security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away, and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs - in other words shooting to kill."

Evidence also showed armed members of security forces shooting from the roof of a justice department building in one city, and from helicopters in another.
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"These are clear violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, and serious violations of human rights," she continued.

The unrest began on November 15 after the government abruptly raised fuel prices and rapidly spread to over 100 cities and towns and turned political with young and working-class protesters demanding clerical leaders step down. Iranian authorities confirmed for the first time this week that security forces killed demonstrators during what rights groups have said was the deadliest anti-government unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.Advertisement

"All in all, the picture now emerging from Iran is extremely disturbing," Bachelet said.

One of the worst incidents took place in the city of Mahshahr in southwest Iran on Nov. 18 when security forces fired at protesters with machine guns, killing at least 23 and possibly many more, the United Nations statement said.

Security forces have used water cannon, tear gas, batons, and live fire against unarmed demonstrators who posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury, it said.Advertisement

Iranian authorities must act with greater transparency and carry out independent investigations, including into the killing of protesters and deaths and ill-treatment in custody, she said.

"And those responsible must be held accountable," Bachelet said.

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