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2019 Iranian protests

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2019 Iranian protests
Part of 2018–2019 Iranian general strikes and protests
2019 Iranian protests 1.jpg
2019 Iranian fuel protests Day 1 by Fars News (10).jpg
2019 Iranian fuel protests Fars News (18).jpg
2019 Iranian fuel protests Fars News (3).jpg
2019 Iranian fuel protests Fars News (1).jpg
Date15 November 2019 – present[1]
Location
Caused by
Goals
MethodsDemonstrations, riots, sit-ins, civil resistance, online activisms, arson
StatusOngoing
Parties to the civil conflict
Protesters
Lead figures
Uncentralized Iran Ali Khamenei
Iran Hassan Rouhani
Iran Eshaq Jahangiri
Iran Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
Iran Amir Hatami
Iran Mahmoud Alavi
Iran Hossein Allahkaram
Mohammad Bagheri
Hossein Ashtari
Abdolrahim Mousavi
Hossein Salami
Number

Tens of thousands
Domestic media in Iran: 87,000+[3]

200,000+[4][5] as cited by an Iranian MP
Casualties and losses
Per Amnesty International:
208+ protesters killed

Per MEK
:
750+ - 1,000+ killed (including at least 18 children)[6][7] [8]

Per sources inside Iran:
200+ - 900+ protesters killed[9]
4,800+ Injured[10][11]
7,000+ arrested [12]

Per U.S. State Department

1,000+ killed [13]
Per Iranian government:
3 security forces killed[14]
731 banks and 140 government sites torched[15]

The 2019 Iranian protests (Persian: اعتراضات سراسری ۱۳۹۸ ایران‎) are a series of civil protests occurring in multiple cities across Iran, initially from an increase 50%–300% (approximately 6.5–19.5 cents US)[16][17][18][19] increase in fuel prices, but included an outcry against the government in Iran and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[20][21] The protests commenced in the evening of 15 November and within hours spread to 21 cities as videos of the protest began to circulate online.[22][23][24] Images of the violent protests were shared on the internet with protests reaching international levels.[25]

Although the protests began as peaceful gatherings, they soon turned into a violent riots and revolt against the Iranian government.[26] The Iranian government employed lethal tactics in order to shut down the protests including a nationwide internet shutdown, shooting protesters dead from rooftops, helicopters, and at close range with machine gun fire. Government forces then proceeded to confiscate the bodies of the dead protesters and truck them away in order to mask the true casualty count and severity of the protests. The families of murdered protesters were threatened by the government from speaking to the media or holding funerals.[27][28] Although there is currently no conclusive casualty count current estimates suspect the government killed well over 1,000 Iranian citizens. [29][30] The government crack down prompted a violent reaction from protesters who destroyed 731 government banks including Iran's central bank, nine Islamic religious centers, tore down anti-American billboards, and posters and statues of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. 50 government military bases were also attacked by protesters. This series of protests have been categorized as the most violent and severe since the rise of Iran's Islamic Republic in 1979.[31][32] [27]

The Iranian authorities blocked all Internet in the country for approximately six days once the riots started.[33][34] [35][36]

Background[edit]

Sanctions by the United States and the European Union, coupled with economic mismanagement, have led to a severe economic crisis in Iran in the past few years.[37] Prior to the unrest, current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani said, "Iran is experiencing one of its hardest years since the 1979 Islamic revolution".[23] Iranian allies in Lebanon and Iraq have also witnessed anti-government protests.[23]

At midnight on 15 November 2019, the Iranian government announced that they would increase the price on fuel.[23] Prior to the price increase, drivers could buy up to 250 litres (66 US gal) for 10,000 Iranian rial per litre (around $1.15 per US gallon), with the new prices being 15,000 rial per litre (around $1.70 per US gallon) for the first 60 litres (16 US gal) per month, and 30,000 per litre (around $3.40 per US gallon) after that, a price increase of 50% to 200%.[21] An Iranian state-television programme described these measures as a way to help fund the subsidies of around 60 million Iranians.[37]

Behzad Nabavi, a former member of Iran’s Parliament, has said in an interview in September 2019, just two months before the uprising, that Razavi Economic Foundation, which contains several smaller entities, jointly with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Ministry of intelligence (MOIS) control about sixty per cent of Iran’s economy. Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, presides over the foundation. None of these entities pay any taxes and no government organization is allowed to go through their books. [38]

History[edit]

After the government announced the price increase in the early hours of 15 November, Iranians in various cities took to the streets to protest.

One protester was reportedly killed in Sirjan after security forces opened fire. Other demonstrators in the city set fire to a gas station, and chanted "Rouhani, leave this country".[20] Protesters in Ahvaz demanded that people boycott fuel and stop their cars in the middle of the road as a sign of protest.[39]

In Mashhad, Iran's second largest city, demonstrators blocked traffic in the streets and highways.[37] Protesters gathered late into the night in Qods, a suburb of Tehran, and destroyed a police vehicle.[40]

Protests continued to expand for a second day on 16 November. Demonstrators gathered in over 50 cities and many major cities such as Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, and Shiraz to protest the sudden price hike.[41] Security forces shot at protesters with live bullets in an effort to disperse them, killing at least ten protesters in Isfahan, Behbahan, Kermanshah, Karaj, and Shiraz.[42]

Several banks in Eslamshahr, Behbahan, and Tehran, and one religious school in Isfahan were burned down by protesters.[42] In Shahriar demonstrators burned down a monument depicting the ring of the Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.[43]

On 16 November, internet access across the country was reported to be in a near-total shutdown, with online activity estimated to be 7% of ordinary levels.[44][45]

State news agencies reported that over 1,000 people had been arrested so far and that the protests had spread to over 100 cities in Iran.[42]

Shop owners in Tehran and Isfahan closed the bazaars and went on strike in protest. While in Tabriz, students from the University of Tabriz left their classes and demonstrated at the university.[46][47]

Students at the University of Tehran gathered for a second consecutive day to protest the current situation in the country and chanted "Death to the dictator", and "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life only for Iran".[48] Protests continued in the Sadeghiyeh neighbourhood of Tehran, and the bazaar was packed with security forces attempting to prevent bazaar merchants from going on strike.[49] Citizens of Tehran reported that despite the internet shutdown, the protests gathered in intensity on Tuesday.[49]

Heavy clashes were also reported in Shiraz, where the security forces fired directly at people.[49] Authorities reported that nine Islamic seminaries and Friday prayer offices were burned by protesters across the country.[50] Protests continued for a fifth consecutive day on 19 November despite a heavy security presence the country. Gatherings were reported in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz and Isfahan.[51] The city of Shush in Khuzestan province, was effectively closed down as Haft Tappeh workers protested the current conditions.[52]

The Revolutionary Guards reportively took the bodies of the dead protesters and the injured in hospitals, in order to hide to cover up the true death toll and downplay the protests. In some cases, government officials sold the bodies of the protesters.[35][36][53] The protests reached 70% of provinces according to The Guardian.[54]

Internet shutdown[edit]

On the eve of the protests, Iranian authorities started disrupting internet connections and social media. The Internet was effectively blocked following Iran's Supreme National Security Council decision to shut it down for 24 hours.[55][56][57]

As per NetBlocks, users first reported outages in Mashhad on 15 November. The disruptions increased in extent and severity with impact also visible on overall connectivity charts. Iran's largest mobile network operators, including MCI, Rightel and IranCell, fell offline on the evening of 16 November 2019. By 20 November, national connectivity was at 5% of ordinary levels, making it difficult to monitor human rights violations and cover incidents on the ground.[58]

The government has also jammed satellite TV connections and sent anonymous messages to people near protest sites reading: “We know you are here.”[59]

On 21 November 2019, a small return of connectivity was tracked by NetBlocks, along with reports that some users had come online; national connectivity was up to 8%.[60]

Slogans[edit]

Chants by demonstrators targeted the government and its leaders with people chanting, "Shah of Iran, return to Iran!", "Clerics must get lost", "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon. We sacrifice our lives for Iran," "Death to the dictator", "Death to the Islamic Republic", "Our military brothers, why do you kill your brother?", "Bless your soul Reza Shah", "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life only for Iran", "Oil money has been lost, it has all been spent on Palestine", "They have brought up Islam, but trampled the people", "The supreme leader lives like a God. We, the people live like beggars."[61] Iranians expressed their opposition to the Islamic Republic's anti-Israel efforts by chanting ”We have no money or fuel, to hell with Palestine.” [62]

Tactics and methods[edit]

Protesters began by organizing rallies in protest of the Iran's government resulting in police gunfire. As protests were met with government crackdowns, protesters began to block streets and highways. The protests intensified with Iranians burning pictures and banners of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and burning government banks. Many protest chants and slogans were directed at expressing discontent with the Iranian government's spending on conflicts in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Other chants praised the late Shah of Iran calling for his return.[63]

Repression[edit]

November 2019 demonstrations Isfahan

The government agents in Iran are accused of stealing the bodies of the dead protesters from morgues, and arresting the injured from hospitals, to give the uprising a lower profile.[35][36]

Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and president Hassan Rouhani ordered deadly weapons be used against the Iranians protesting the blatant rise in gasoline prices. Above all government entities, it is the "Supreme National Security Council" that makes decisions on how to deal with such demonstrations and deal with political crisis. The Council is presided by the president. Iran's constitution prescribes that all decisions taken by the Council should be approved by Khamenei.[64] who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces.[65]

Deaths and casualties[edit]

Deaths numbers by provinces[66]
  40 or more people killed
  Between 30-39 people killed
  Between 20-29 people killed
  Between 10-19 people killed
  Between 1-9 people killed
  No Data

A man in Sirjan was killed and several others were injured after security forces opened fire on protesters on 15 November.[67][68] The following day, ten protesters were killed during demonstrations.[42]

The BBC has reported that there is a huge variance in the number of people killed. Unofficial reports from various sources say that from 15 to 19 November, about 200 people were killed and 3,000 injured. UN Human Rights say "dozens of people may have been killed" while Amnesty International places the number at "at least 106". Iranian authorities say "only a few people have been killed".[69]

As of 19 November, Amnesty International has claimed that around 16 people were killed in Kermanshah, 14 each in Bandar-e Mahshahr and in Javanroud, 9 in Mariwan, 8 in Behbahan, 6 each in Ramhormoz, Sadra and in Shiraz, 4 each in Bukan, Karaj and in Robatkarim, 3 in Khorramshahr, 2 each in Abadan, Ahvaz and in Bumahen, and 1 each in Tehran, Isfahan, Eslamshahr, Sanandaj, Shahriar and in Sirjan.[70][71]

As of November 26, Amnesty International reported that over 100 people had been killed during the protests, including accounts of wounded or dead protesters removed by government authorities to hide the magnitude of the crackdown on protesters.[72] According to the BBC Persian, the number of death has exceeded 200.[73]

According to The Guardian on December 1, up to 69 protesters were killed in the city of Shiraz alone.[74]

Amnesty International has reported Iranian government has been threatening families of the martyred not to talk to the press. They have been forced not to arrange any funeral and bury their loved ones secretly. [75]


Number of killed exceeds 1000 - 5 December 2019- Speaking at a news conference at the State Department, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook stated that news coming out of Iran show the number Iranian protesters killed by government forces may exceed 1000. [76] [77]


Children among those killed[edit]

Reports by 5 December 2019 give the names of at least 18 children - under the age of eighteen- among the martyrs, but the real number is much higher as the total number of the dead already is over 1000. [78] [79]

Detainees[edit]

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network has stated that many detained protesters, some of them underage, are held under grueling conditions. In addition, sources have characterized conditions in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary as "unbearable".[80][81]

Many observers are worried that some of those arrested have undergone severe torture and may face execution.[82]

Impacts[edit]

The savings from the fuel price rises are planned to be distributed to 18 million poor families, representing 75% of Iran's population.[59][23] However, with inflation already at 40% and a plummeting currency, according to The Economist, "the inflationary effects of the price rise risk wiping out most of the benefit."[23] This inflationary threat has been acknowledged by Khamenei.[23]

Aftermath[edit]

Iranian news agency said that starting from 19 November 2019, thousands of people in cities across Iran participated in separate pro-government rallies in condemnation of the riots and showed support for the Iran supreme leadership.[83] On 20 November 2019, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared victory against the "enemy". Iran started gradually restoring internet connection the following day.[84][85] Many supporters (including IRGC leader Hossein Salami) also called for the death penalty on anti-government protesters.[86]

Call for Trial[edit]

On 2 December 2019, Tehran bus drivers have called for the trial of those who ordered shooting at protesters in different cities of Iran. The labor union has described government’s brutal measures as “massacre and bloody suppression" of people. The statement issued by the Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, has also shown concern about the fate of thousands protesters detained during the demonstrations.[87]

6 December 2019 - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed her deep concern about the treatment of the large number of people arrested in recent days demonstrations in Iran. She was also concerned about torture or execution of detainees by Iranian regime.[88]

Reactions[edit]

National[edit]

At the beginning of Dars-e Kharej on 17 November, he remarked that he was not an expert in this regard, but this policy had been adopted by the heads of the country, based on expert opinion. Therefore, this decision should be acted on. He said that in any case, some people had become displeased, but setting fire to such and such a bank was not the action of the people; rather it was the action of thugs. Such actions were not carried out by ordinary people, Khamenei claimed. "Of course, officials should also pay attention and decrease the problems associated as much as they can."[89][90] Khamenei also blamed the protests on “all of the centres of villainy around the world that oppose us.”[23]
Also at a meeting with producers, economic activists and entrepreneurs on 19 November he stated:
"Both friends and foes should know that we have repelled the enemy in the war in military, political and security issues. The recent actions were security issues, not from the people. We have repelled the enemy in various areas, and by God's grace, we will also definitely repel the enemy in the economic war."[91][92][93]
  • Parvaneh Salahshouri, a member of parliament, stated that the decision to increase the price of fuel was not made by the Majles and had been made by the heads of the three branches. Salahshouri stated, "It has been a while now that parliament is not involved in the decision-making process." She continued and, referring to the parliament, said, "The last semblance of a democracy we had is no more. Shut down the next parliament, it is an act of economic resistance".[94]
  • Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Alavi Gorgani asked the government to "change their decision to increase fuel prices before it is too late".[42]
  • Abolfazl Bahrampour, prominent Iranian Quran scholar, stated that the arrested protesters are Muharib and do not deserve normal execution, but must be tortured to death by mutilation of their right hands and left feet. He made these comments in the Iranian state-sponsored IRIB TV1 citing the 33rd Ayah of Al-Ma'ida Surah: "... The only punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is that they should be murdered, or crucified, or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides ...".[95][96][97]


  • Two famous Iranian film makers signed a statement condemning Iranian regime’s agents shooting at protestors. The statement signed by Iranian award winners Darush Mehrjui and Asghar Farhadi read in parts, they cannot forget "the faces of the youth whose pure blood was imprudently shed". The statement also ridicules speeches by Iranian officials who have blamed protesters as being agents of foreign states, saying “the regime is trying to justify killing them”.[98]

International[edit]

  • On 3 December US President Donald Trump, while attending NATO summit in London, said, "Iran is killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak”. [102]

Others[edit]

  • Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran's deposed Shah, tweeted that the Islamic Republic had brought only poverty and suffering to the Iranian people. He also said that the only thing offered for free by the Islamic Republic was oil to its allies in the region, a reference to Syria's president Bashar Assad.[103]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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