Iran is using illegal and excessive force in a crackdown on protests against water shortages in its oil-rich but arid southwestern Khuzestan province, international rights groups say.
Amnesty International said it confirmed the deaths of at least eight protesters and bystanders, including a teenager, after authorities used live ammunition to quell the protests.
Iranian media and officials said at least three people were killed, including a policeman and a protester, accusing “opportunists” and “rioters” of shooting at protesters and security forces.
“Iranian security forces have deployed illegal forces, including firing live ammunition and bird shots, to crush mostly peaceful protests,” Amnesty International said. Analysis of video footage of protests and testimonies “indicates that security forces used deadly automatic weapons, shotguns with inherently blind ammunition and tear gas,” he said.
Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, said in a separate statement that Iranian authorities appeared to have used excessive force against protesters and that the government should “transparently investigate” the reported deaths. “The Iranian authorities have a very troubling record of gunshot responses to demonstrators frustrated by growing economic hardship and deteriorating living conditions,” said Iranian researcher Tara Sepehri Far.
Human rights groups have previously accused Iran of launching a fierce 2019 crackdown on nationwide protests against rising fuel prices that Amnesty says killed at least 304 people.
“The Iranian authorities have a heartbreaking record when it comes to the illegal use of lethal force. The events unfolding in Khuzestan have chilling echoes of November 2019, ”said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Amnesty said a teenager, Hadi Bahmani, was killed in the town of Izeh.
Iranian authorities blamed the unrest on the rioters. Amnesty said the Fars News Agency published interviews with relatives of two of the men killed, distancing itself from their actions. However, the human rights group quoted a source as saying that one of the families was visited by plainclothes agents who “forced them to recite a script prepared in advance on camera.”
Source: Fr24 News