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UN rights office urges Iran to rein in security forces at protests

FILE PHOTO: People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS
2019-11-19

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SULAIMANI — The UN human rights office voiced deep concern on Tuesday (November 19) at the Iranian security forces’ use of live ammunition against demonstrators and urged authorities to rein in its use of force to disperse protests sparked by a hike in fuel prices.

UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville also called on authorities in Iran to restore the internet service that was cut off since Saturday and uphold the demonstrators’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

It had reports that the number killed was in the dozens, he told a Geneva briefing, adding that the extent of casualties was “clearly very serious”.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday blamed the turmoil on Iran’s foreign foes, including the United States, and denounced protesters as “thugs”.

Hundreds of young and working-class Iranians expressed their anger at squeezed living standards, state corruption and a deepening gap between rich and poor. Social media footage showed protesters burning pictures of top officials and calling on clerical rulers to step down, as well as violent clashes between security forces and protesters.

The United States, which quit an international nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed sanctions, has condemned Tehran for using “lethal force” and curbing the internet.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)