Two Years Later: Remembering Iran’s Brutal Repression Of Nonviolent Anti-Regime Protests

(New York, N.Y.) — November 15 marks the second anniversary of the deadliest protests in Iran in 40 years, sparked by significant government increases in gasoline prices and the resulting rationing. The U.S. State Department’s Country Reports On Human Rights Practices estimate that at least 304 citizens were killed by the Iranian government and its security forces, while others report that the regime killed approximately 1,500. The regime’s suppression of the protests added to its bloody track record of human rights abuses against peaceful demonstrators.

As protests gripped Iran in November of 2019, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reportedly gathered top regime officials and told them, “Do whatever it takes to end [the unrest]. You have my order.” He also said that he would hold the officials accountable for any consequences if they did not stop the demonstrations. 

The regime officials and their agents acted accordingly. In the Khuzestan province’s Mahshahr county in late 2019, for example, the IRGC allegedly shot at protesters without prior warning. When demonstrators ran away, the IRGC followed them to marshlands nearby and encircled and machine-gunned them, killing at least 100. 

Iranian security forces—especially the Basij, a volunteer paramilitary organization subordinate to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—have been accused of “committing numerous human rights abuses, including acts of violence against protesters and participants in public demonstrations,” according to the State Department. 

To read United Against Nuclear Iran’s (UANI) resource Iran’s War on Protestors: Death, Detention, and Darkness, please click here.