The estimate is much lower than the one provided by Human Rights Activists Iran (a U.S.-based organization that has been closely following the protests ever since the death on Sept. 16 of a young girl being held by Iran’s morality officers). The activist group claims that 451 protesters and 60 police officers were killed in the unrest since its beginning and that more than 18,000 people are currently detained.
Mahsa, 22, was taken into custody for allegedly violating Islamic Republic’s strict dress codes. These protests quickly turned into calls for Iran’s overthrow and present one of the greatest challenges to the ruling clergy since the 1979 revolution. A website close the Guard reported that Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh was the commander of the aerosol division of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and said that more than 300 people were killed, including “martyrs,” which is an apparent reference to security forces.
He also said that many of those who were killed were ordinary Iranians, not part of the protests. He didn’t provide any details or indicate where his estimate was sourced. Authorities have restricted media coverage about the protests. Media outlets linked to the state have not reported on an overall death count and have instead focused on attacks on security forces. Officials attribute this to shadowy militant and separatist organizations.
Hajizadeh maintained the official claim that the protests were orchestrated by Iran’s enemies (including Western countries) without providing any evidence.
Protesters claim that they have been fed up by decades of political and social repression. They also deny any foreign agenda.
Some Iranians are actively supporting their country’s national team, believing it to be linked with the government. Unrest also has cast a shadow over this year’s World Cup. Ayatollah Al Khamenei’s niece called on the public to urge their governments to cut all ties to Tehran after its violent suppression of demonstrations.
Farideh Moradkhani posted an online video by her brother in France, asking “conscientious persons of the world to support Iranian protesters.” According to activists, the video was uploaded online this week after Moradkhani’s arrest on Nov. 23.
Moradkhani (a long-standing activist) is the closest member arrested of Khamenei’s family. Her late father was an opposing figure and married to Khamenei’s sister. Moradkhani, a member of this family, has been opposed to Khamenei’s regime for many decades. She has also been jailed before for her activism. In her video statement, she stated that she would ask all conscientious people around the world to stand behind us and urge their governments not only to respond with empty words or slogans but to take concrete action and end all dealings with this regime.
The protests have been ongoing for three months despite brutal crackdowns by Iranian security forces, who used rubber bullets, tear gas, and live ammunition. Iran refuses cooperation with a fact finding mission, which the U.N. Human Rights Council has recently approved.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran won’t engage in any cooperation whatsoever with the political committee,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani stated Monday. The Austria Press Agency reported that Iran released a dual Iranian-Austrian citizen, aged 76, from prison for medical reasons.
APA quoted an Austrian Foreign Ministry statement confirming that Massud Mossaheb had been granted indefinite medical leaves. According to the ministry, “intensive diplomatic efforts” were required to secure his release. This was first reported by Austrian newspaper Die Presse. Iran has not yet commented.
Mossaheb was questioned about espionage and arrested in the early part of 2019, while he was visiting Tehran. He was later sentenced for 10 years. According to APA reports, he must stay in Iran and report to authorities each week.
Iran has taken several dual nationals into custody on charges of threatening the nation’s security in recent years. Analysts and rights organizations accuse Iran’s security agents of using foreign detainees in bargaining or prisoner swaps with Western countries. Tehran refutes this claim.