Iranian General Acknowledges Hundreds of Deaths in Nationwide Protests

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
December 4, 2022Middle Eastshare
Iranian General Acknowledges Hundreds of Deaths in Nationwide Protests
Iranians carry their country's national flags during a rally to mark the 43th anniversary of the start of the Iran hostage crisis outside the former U.S. embassy in the capital Tehran on Nov. 4, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

An Iranian general has admitted that over 300 people have been killed by security forces, in the continued unrest that has emerged in the country since September.

The figure, being the first official one in two months, is noticeably lower than what was reported by Iranian Human Rights activists. Additional information emerged as a U.S.-based group had been closely monitoring the protests since they first erupted after the death of Mahsa Amani at the hands of Iran’s so-called “Morality police,” for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

According to the group over 500 people were killed, over 450 of which were protesters and 60 security forces. More than 18,000 people have been detained since the protests began.

Although initially the protests were fueled by the young woman’s death, they quickly escalated into calls to overthrow the regime, an Islamic theocracy that took power by revolution in 1979, overthrowing the Shah.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the aerospace division of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, said that more than 300 people have been killed, according to the Associated Press.

He added the figure also included “martyrs”—an apparent reference to security forces, and also suggested that many of those killed were Iranians not involved in the protests, although he did not provide sources or an exact figure.

Coverage of the protests has been heavily censored by Iranian authorities, with state-linked media not providing an indication of the overall toll. Instead, they mainly focused on attacks on security forces, casting blame on militias and separatists.

Hajizadeh emphasized that the protests have been fomented by Iran’s enemies, as claimed in the official statement, including Western countries and Saudi Arabia, but did not provide any evidence.

The protesters deny any foreign involvement in the protests and say the protests are motivated by decades of draconian rule and socio-political oppression.

Protests have now spread nationwide and have drawn support from various public figures, including artists, athletes as well as the niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who recently called on people to pressure their governments to cut ties with Tehran.

Her France-based brother, Farideh Moradkhani, recently posted a video of his sister online, urging “conscientious people of the world” to support Iranian protesters.

The video followed Ms. Moradkhani’s reported arrest on Nov. 23.

A long-time activist, Moradkhani is the closest member of the supreme leader’s family to be arrested. Her late father, who was married to Ayatollah Khamenei’s sister, was also a long-time activist, having opposed the regime for decades. Moradkhani has previously been jailed several times by the regime, for her activism.

As the protests are heading into their third month, they have been met with a brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces, including the use of using live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas. This, however, has not deterred protesters.

A recent attempt to cooperate with a potential fact-finding mission to be established by the UN Human Rights Council was rejected by the Iranian government.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not engage in any cooperation, whatsoever, with the political committee,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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