RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
At least 208 people are believed to have been killed during last month's crackdown on protests in Iran that followed fuel-price hikes, Amnesty International said on December 2.
"The number of people believed to have been killed during demonstrations in Iran that broke out on 15 November has risen to at least 208, based on credible reports received by the organization," said the London-based rights group, adding that the actual death toll was probably higher.
Protests erupted on November 15 after the government announced a fuel-price hike of up to 200 percent but were quickly stifled by security forces who also imposed a week-long near-total Internet blackout.
Dozens of deaths were recorded in Shahriar, one of the cities with the highest death toll, Amnesty said.
Amnesty last week had put the death toll at 161.
Philip Luther, Amnesty's research and advocacy head for the Middle East, called the number of deaths "evidence that Iran's security forces went on a horrific killing spree," and called on the international community to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
"Extensive video footage verified and analyzed by Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps shows security forces shooting at unarmed protesters," the group said.
Amnesty added that, according to collected information, "families of victims have been threatened and warned not to speak to the media or to hold funeral ceremonies for their loved ones.
"Some families are also being forced to make extortionate payments to have the bodies of their loved ones returned to them," the watchdog said.
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