Iran is intentionally using lethal force to crack down on protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, Amnesty International said yesterday, adding that without international action more people risk being detained or killed.
Its warning comes as another rights group said 83 people had been killed in two weeks of protests as Iran presses ahead with more detentions of prominent figures.
“The Iranian authorities have mobilised their well-honed machinery of repression to ruthlessly crack down on nationwide protests in an attempt to thwart any challenge to their power,” Amnesty said.
“Without concerted collective action by the international community that goes beyond statements of condemnation, countless more people risk being killed, maimed, tortured, sexually assaulted and thrown behind bars.”
It said its review of photos and videos showed “most victims were killed by security forces firing live ammunition.”
The NGO said it had obtained a leaked official document issued to the commanders of armed forces in all provinces on September 21 instructing them to “severely confront” protesters.
Another leaked document showed that on September 23, the commander of the armed forces in Mazandaran province, where some of the deadliest clashes have taken place, ordered security forces to “confront mercilessly, going as far as causing deaths, any unrest by rioters and anti-revolutionaries”.
Iran has been apprehending scores of journalists and activists over the last few days as part of its crackdown.
Former Iranian international football player Hossein Manahi was arrested yesterday after supporting the protests on his social media accounts. Security forces have also arrested singer Shervin Hajipour, whose song Baraye (For), made up of tweets about the protests, went viral on Instagram, a rights group said.
The Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 29 journalists have been detained so far.
Iran, which has blamed “foreign enemies” for protests that swept the country, said yesterday it had arrested nine European nationals for their role in the unrest.
The detention of citizens of Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and other countries is likely to ratchet up tensions between Iran and Western countries over the death of Mahsa Amini.
The escalation comes as more casualties were reported. Nineteen people were killed after security forces fired on armed protesters attacking a police station, said an official.
The nine unidentified people were detained “during the riots or while plotting in the background,” the Intelligence Ministry said in a statement carried by Iranian media.
Amini, a 22-year-old from the Iranian Kurdish town of Saqez, was arrested this month in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” by the morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
Her death has caused the first big show of opposition on Iran’s streets since authorities crushed protests against a rise in gasoline prices in 2019. The demonstrations have quickly evolved into a popular revolt against the clerical establishment.
Demonstrations have spread from Amini’s hometown to all of Iran’s 31 provinces, with all layers of society, including ethnic and religious minorities, joining in.
While analysts don’t expect Iran’s clerical rulers to fall, they are on the defensive and are struggling to come up with a strategy to defuse the fury.
Rights groups said dozens of activists, students and artists have been detained and the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Twitter that it had learned that security forces had arrested at least 28 journalists as of September 29.