UN and Amnesty fear a heavy human toll

The United Nations fear "dozens" of people killed during demonstrations against rising gas prices. The NGO mentions at least 100 dead.

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Protesters block road in Tehran, Saturday, November 16. Majid Khahi / AP

of the "Dozens of dead" according to the United Nations Organization (UN), "At least 106" for Amnesty International. The crackdown on protests against a rise in gas prices in Iran is feared the worst Tuesday, November 19, while the authorities have cut off access to the Internet since Saturday. Because of this "blackout", the situation is very difficult to assess across the country, after four days of unrest. Tehran warned that the Internet would be restored only in the event of a lasting calm.

So, "At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, according to credible information", harvested by Amnesty. But for the human rights NGO, "The actual toll could be much higher, with information suggesting up to 200 killed". The NGO is based on "Verified video images, testimonials from people in the field and information" human rights activists outside Iran.

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According to Amnesty, the security forces "Have been given the green light to crush" events. She claims to have viewed videos showing "Members of the security forces use firearms, water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters" but also "Snipers on the roofs of buildings shoot the crowd and, in one case, a helicopter". "Images of sockets on the ground, as well as the high number of deaths, indicate that they used real bullets"says the non-governmental organization.

"While most demonstrations seemed peaceful, in some cases, as the crackdown increased, a small number of protesters threw stones, caused fires and damaged banks."continues Amnesty, which calls on the Iranian authorities to "Put an immediate end to this brutal and deadly repression".

Earlier on Tuesday, the UN sounded the alarm. "We are particularly alarmed that the use of live ammunition has caused a significant number of deaths across the country"said a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, in Geneva. "Dozens of people may have been killed", he added, also speaking of "More than 1,000" arrests and exhorting "Authorities and security forces to avoid the use of force", and the protesters "To demonstrate peacefully".

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Dozens of cities affected by the protest

The measure at the origin of the troubles is the increase in the price of gasoline, highly subsidized: the liter has increased from 10,000 to 15,000 rials (11 cents) for the first 60 liters purchased each month. Beyond this amount, the price has tripled to 30,000 rials. The authorities ensure that the revenues generated should benefit the 60 million least favored Iranians out of a total population of 83 million people.

A few hours after the announcement on Friday of this measure, dozens of cities in Iran were affected by the protests, which quickly escalated into riots. According to reports in the Iranian media, only five deaths have been officially confirmed, including those of three members of the security forces killed "With knives" by "Rioters" in the province of Tehran.

In Tehran, hundreds of riot police armed with batons and water cannons were deployed in several squares, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalists. In the east of the capital, two burning stations were witnessing violence. In the west, a police station and a large billboard over an urban highway were also set on fire.

The spokesman of the Iranian judicial authority, Gholamhossein Esmaïli, asked "To the population to report to the police and the judiciary the seditious and those who perpetrated crimes". Without giving any figures, Mr. Esmaïli reported the arrest of people who had burned mosques or banks, and"Individuals who have provided films and information to foreign media and to enemies" from Iran. The authorities have accused foreign powers, including the United States, their nemesis, of fomenting the clashes. For its part, Washington has supported the protesters.

State television showed rallies in support of the authorities in Tabriz (north) and Chahr-e Kord (center). In Tabriz, protesters chanted "Manifesting is a right of the people, riots are the work of enemies", according to the agency Fars. Other pro-government demonstrations are announced for Wednesday in various cities.

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