UN 'very concerned' by violent response of security forces to protests in Iran

UN rights office also voices concern over communications restrictions affecting landline and mobile usage, internet, social media platforms.

UN 'very concerned' by violent response of security forces to protests in Iran

The UN Human Rights Office said Tuesday it is "very concerned" about the continued violent response by security forces to protests in Iran, as well as communications restrictions.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said at a UN press conference in Geneva that thousands of people had joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country over the past 11 days.

She said security forces had responded at times with live ammunition.

"We are very concerned by the continued violent response by security forces to protests in Iran, as well as communications restrictions affecting landline and mobile usage, the internet, and social media platforms," said Shamdasani.

Many Iranians have been killed, injured, and detained during the protests that erupted following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

She was arrested on Sept. 13 for allegedly not wearing her hijab in full compliance with Iran's dress codes for women.

"Due in part to restrictions on telecommunications, it is difficult to establish the precise number of casualties and arrests," said Shamdasani.

"On Sept. 24, state media put the number killed at 41. Non-governmental organizations monitoring the situation have reported a higher number of deaths, including women and children, and hundreds injured across at least 11 provinces," she added.

Leaders' comments concerning

The UN Human Rights Office said it is "extremely concerned" by comments by some leaders vilifying protesters and by the apparent unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against protesters.

Shamdasani said firearms must never be used to disperse an assembly but only be used in cases of an imminent threat to life or severe injury.

"Reports indicate hundreds have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists, and at least 18 journalists," said the UN spokesperson, noting that the Iranian government has not announced the overall number of arrests.

She said that in the province of Gilan alone, the police chief said 739 individuals had been arrested, including 60 women, during three days of protests.

"We call on Iranian authorities to ensure the rights to due process and to release all those who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty," said Shamdasani.

"We are concerned that the disruption to communications services has serious effects on people's ability to exchange information, to carry out economic activities, and to access public services."

Such action undermines numerous human rights, notably the right to freedom of expression, said the UN official.

"We call on the authorities to fully restore internet access," said Shamdasani.

"We are also concerned about the persistent impunity with respect to human rights violations in Iran, including the recurring deaths of protesters due to the alleged use of lethal force by security forces, notably in November 2019, July 2021, and May 2022."

Hüseyin Demir

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