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Deadly Protests in Iran

At least 208 people have been killed in the recent protests in Iran, Amnesty International reported this week. Opposition groups and some local observers have estimated that the death toll is even higher, possibly topping 400.  

The current protests, which began in mid-November following an abrupt increase of at least 50 percent in gas prices, are the deadliest in Iran since its Islamic Revolution 40 years ago.

Within 72 hours of the announced gas price hike on 15 November, demonstrators in several cities were out in force. Citizens soon started protesting more than gas prices, and they called for an end to the country’s current government and leadership.

In several cities, security forces responded by opening fire on unarmed protesters. According to local observers, many of the protestors were unemployed or financially struggling young men in their 20s. For example, in the southwest city of Mahshahr, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps members shot and killed 40 to 100 demonstrators in a marsh where they had sought refuge, the New York Times reports.

On Tuesday, officials on state television in Iran Tuesday said that “rioters” in multiple cities had been gunned down. According to estimates from various international rights and local groups, at least 2,000 have been wounded and 7,000 detained, according to the New York Times.

“In some cases, there are shocking reports that, when the authorities have returned victims’ bodies to their families, they have demanded payment citing several reasons, including the cost of the bullet that killed their loved one or compensation for property destroyed during the protests,” Amnesty International said in its recent report, which also noted that the claims have been denied by an Iranian official.

For more coverage of civil unrest and the security challenges it presents, see the National Security column in the upcoming February 2020 issue of Security Management magazine.