Iran: Iranian authorities must put an end to violence against peaceful protesters across the country

Starting on 15 November 2019, mass protests have erupted in Iran in response to a three-fold rise in petrol costs. Protesters have called for improved living conditions amidst high levels of corruption, unemployment, poverty and discrimination across the country. Some reports have indicated that protests have occurred in 500 locations in at least 120 cities in 28 provinces, including in Isfahan, Tehran, Shiraz and Tabriz – the largest scale in recent history. In response to the protests, Law Enforcement has responded with violence, with reports indicating that as of 2 December  2019, at least  208  protesters have been killed; other sources fear the number of casualties might be higher. 

These new protests come on the wave of increasing restrictions on civic space by Iranian authorities. In the context of an already repressed civic environment, authorities have in the past year targeted conservationists, civil society activists – especially labor union and teachers’ union activists – as well as human rights defenders, who have been wrongfully prosecuted for exercising their rights to freely assemble and form human rights associations.

Besides the impunity with which it functions in the face of human rights violations, authorities have deployed various tactics to silence protesters: based on citizens’ reports, the military and security forces have opened live ammunition on protesters and hundreds have been injured. Iranian officials have announced the arrest of over 7000 protesters. The government has warned protesters of the consequences of participating in such protests through text messages, including summoning protesters to security centres to provide details of their involvement in protests.

The Iranian government also shut down internet access during the protests, with reports indicating that up to 95% of Iranians were unable to access the internet, starting on 16 November until 21 November. As the intensity of the protests surge, Iranians can only access the national internet and websites approved by Council of Country Security. This means that monitoring the status of the protests is not possible for the international community, allowing for further impunity on the part of Law Enforcement.

Every day the level and scope of the violence and arrests has increased and specifically the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has given a green light to widespread repression of the protesters.

In light of these restrictions, the undersigned organizations call on the Government of Iran to:

–  Immediately and unconditionally release all individuals  and civil society activists who have been arrested during the protests, upholding the right to freedom of assembly in accordance with the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6, 27/5 and 27/31.

–  Immediately cease the violent crackdown on protesters and ensure that law enforcement abides by international best practice as articulated by the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement.

–  Bring to justice, by fair and transparent trial, those responsible for the deaths of protesters.

–  Reinstate access to the internet and ensure free access to and exchange of information among Iranians, and with the outside world, and remove the barriers for such access and exchange.

The undersigned:

  1. Volunteer Activists (VA)
  2. CIVICUS  : World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  3. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran
  4. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  5. The World Movement for Democracy
  6. Cultura Democratica AC  (Argentina)
  7. Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL)
  8. Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI)
  9. World Youth Movement For Democracy
  10. Human Rights Activists in Iran
  11. Kurdistan Human Rights-Geneva (KMMK-G)
  12. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law
  13. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies (Egypt and the MENA region )
  14. Siamak Pourzand Foundation (SPF)
  15. Defenders of Human Rights Center (Co-founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi)
  16. United For Iran
  17. Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
  18. Women’s Learning Partnership
  19. Freedom House
  20. Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
  21. Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)
  22. Iran Human Rights
  23. You for Democracy (Tbilisi-based NGO)
  24. Arseh Sevom
  25. Kurdistan Human Rights Network
  26. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
  27. Balochistan Human Rights Group (BHRG)
  28. Baloch Activists Campaign
  29. Legal Resources Centre from Moldova
  30. Metro Center For Journalists Rights & Advocacy (Iraqi Kurdistan Region)
  31. Educational Society for Malopolska (MTO) (Poland)
  32. Impact Iran
  33. Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network
  34. DefendDefenders (East & Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  35. JoopeA Foundation
  36. Tavaana (E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society)
  37. All Human Rights for All in Iran
  38. Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ )
  39. Hromadske Radio (Ukraine)
  40. Human Rights Watch
  41. SURSUM CORDA Association (“Hearts Up”-Poland)
  42. Boris Nemstov Foundation for Freedom (Russia)
  43. Forum 2000 (Czech Republic)
  44. Article 20 Network
  45. Minority Rights Group International (MRG)
  46. Free Russia Foundation
  47. Equality Now