Iran Protesters Killed, Tortured by Regime Officials, New Report Says

A new report by Amnesty International has accused the Iranian regime of killing hundreds of people and torturing prisoners in crushing anti-government protests that rocked the country in November.

Security forces were ordered onto the streets last year after an unpopular new fuel tax sparked widespread anti-regime demonstrations in around 100 towns and cities, combining with simmering unrest over poor living standards, sluggish economic performance and government authoritarianism.

Regime forces used live ammunition to suppress protesters, arresting more than 7,000 people and engaging in arbitrary detention, disappearances, torture, and other abuses. Children as young as 10 were among those detained.

Amnesty's report—released Wednesday—said security forces killed at least 304 people. The State Department has previously estimated that as many as 1,500 people died at the hands of security forces.

Amnesty said that police, intelligence agents, security forces, prison officials, judges and prosecutors were all complicit in the violence against anti-government protesters, citing interviews with 60 victims of the crackdown or their relatives and friends, plus 14 people who witnessed or reliably investigated the abuse.

Amnesty said it collected the names and details of more than 500 people—including journalists and human rights activists—subjected to "unfair criminal proceedings" related to the protests. Those convicted have been handed terms ranging from one month in prison to death.

Charges include "gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security," "spreading propaganda against the system," and "insulting" Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Three of those sentenced to death are currently having their cases reviewed after public outcry. Calls for the abolition of the death penalty went viral after the three men were sentenced, prompting the regime to throttle internet access to smother online momentum.

Many of these arrested were tortured or otherwise abused, Amnesty said. "In the days following the mass protests, videos showing Iran's security forces deliberately killing and injuring unarmed protesters and bystanders sent shockwaves around the world," said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Much less visible has been the catalogue of cruelty meted out to detainees and their families by Iranian officials away from the public eye," Eltahawy said.

Many of those arrested were detained during a key five-day period of unrest. But others were identified later using photos and videos of the protests, and arrested by security forces at home, work, and even schools. Some were detained while seeking treatment for injuries sustained during demonstrations.

Detainees were repeatedly beaten, flogged and forced into stress positions for long periods, causing significant pain and preventing them from sleeping. Others were put in solitary confinement for extended periods and denied medical care for injuries sustained in the protests and arrests, including gunshot wounds.

One victim recalled being waterboarded by interrogators. The unnamed Iranian told Amnesty that officials"would drench a towel in water and place it over my face. Then they would pour water slowly over the towel, which made me feel like I was suffocating."

Another said he was suspected from a pole by his hands and feet to cause extreme pain. "The pain was excruciating," he told Amnesty. "There was so much pressure and pain in my body that I would urinate on myself."

Iran, protests, killed, regime, security, forces, torture
Iranian protesters gather around a burning motorcycle during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan, on November 16, 2019. -/AFP via Getty Images/Getty