Concern grows over violence, internet restrictions in Iran

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Right, Ravina Shamdasani




We are very concerned by the continued violent response by security forces to protests in Iran, as well as communications restrictions affecting landline and mobile usage, the Internet and social media platforms. Thousands have joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country over the past 11 days. Security forces have responded at times with live ammunition.

Many Iranians have been killed, injured and detained during the protests which erupted following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested on 13 September for allegedly not wearing a hijab in full compliance with Iran’s mandatory requirements for how women must dress.

Due in part to restrictions on telecommunications, it is difficult to establish the precise number of casualties and arrests. On 24 September, State media put the number killed at 41. Non-governmental organisations monitoring the situation have reported a higher number of deaths, including of women and children, and hundreds injured across at least 11 provinces.

We are extremely concerned by comments by some leaders vilifying protesters, and by the apparent unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against protesters. Firearms must never be used simply to disperse an assembly. In the context of assemblies, they should only be used in cases of an imminent threat to life or of serious injury.

Reports indicate hundreds have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists and at least 18 journalists. The Government has not announced the overall number of arrests. In the province of Gilan alone, the police chief said 739 individuals had been arrested, including 60 women during three days of protests. We call on Iranian authorities to ensure the rights to due process and to release all those who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.

We are concerned that the disruption to communications services has serious effects on people’s ability to exchange information, to carry out economic activities and to access public services. This undermines numerous human rights, notably the right to freedom of expression. We call on the authorities to fully restore Internet access.

We are also concerned about the persistent impunity with respect to human rights violations in Iran, including the recurring deaths of protesters due to the alleged use of lethal force by security forces, notably in November 2019, July 2021, and May 2022.

Our Office reiterates our call upon the Iranian authorities to fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, as a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.