Iranian violence on protesters denounced


Iranian security forces shot at protesters from helicopters and a rooftop and aimed at peoples’ heads using “severe violence” to quell anti-government unrest, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said.

They also fired at protesters running away, Bachelet said in a statement, citing verified video footage.

The UN Human Rights Office received information indicating at least 208 people were killed, including 13 women and 12 children, during demonstrations and at least 7 000 people arrested, the statement said.

More than twice that number may have been killed, according to unconfirmed reports, according to the statement.

Iranian authorities confirmed for the first time last week security forces killed demonstrators during what rights groups said was the deadliest anti-government unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“All in all, the picture now emerging from Iran is disturbing,” Bachelet said.

One of the worst incidents was in Mahshahr on November 18 when security forces fired at protestors with machine guns, killing at least 23 and possibly more, the United Nations statement said.

Security forces used water cannon, teargas, batons and live fire against unarmed demonstrators who posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury, it said.

“Verified video footage indicates severe violence used against protesters, including armed members of security forces shooting from the roof of a justice department building in one city and from helicopters in another,” Bachelet said.

“We also received footage which appears to show security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away and shooting others in the face and vital organs – in other words shooting to kill.”

These were serious violations of human rights, Bachelet said. Iranian authorities must act with greater transparency and carry out independent investigations, including into the killing of protesters and deaths and ill-treatment in custody, she said.

“Those responsible must be held accountable,” she said.

The senior US diplomat in Iran said Iranian security forces may have killed more than 1 000 people.

The unrest began on November 15 after government raised fuel prices and rapidly spread to over 100 cities and towns and turned political with young and working-class protesters demanding clerical leaders step down.