Amnesty International has credible reports of at least 146 deaths in cities across Iran since unrest broke out on 15 November.
Due to a nation-wide internet shutdown that has lasted since November 16, it is extremely difficult for international news organizations to know what is happening in Iran. The “information blackout” is meant to prevent people from sharing images and videos of the deadly force exerted by security forces.
State media have only reported a handful of protester deaths, though it is estimated that over 300 civilians have been killed. According to eyewitness accounts, riot police have smashed into windows of cars with drivers still inside and snipers have shot into crowds of people from rooftops.
More than 4,000 people have been injured and hundreds of banks and gas stations burnt down. Over 1,000 people have reportedly been arrested.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a statement describing the protesters as “villains”, greenlighting security forces to “crush demonstrations”.
This is now considered the strongest uprising in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Peaceful protests initially began after petrol prices suddenly rose over 300%. The Iranian government supposedly wanted to stop fuel smuggling. The government also promised to give cash payments to the poorest three-quarters of Iran’s population in response to the decades-long economic downturn. Due to local corruption and incompetence, many people do not trust the authorities to deliver what they promise.
Tensions have risen between the Iranian government and the United States due to the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). This choked both the economy and the morale of civilians, as many viewed JCPOA as a last hope for economic opportunity.
Image from ev or Unsplash.com. This is not an image from the Iran protests.