Mullah Mojtaba Zolnouri, a member of the Iranian regime’s parliament, while trying to downplay the crimes of the mullahs’ security forces committed during the nationwide Iran protests in November, including the killing of 1500 protesters, claimed: “Only 230 were killed during the November incident.”
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which was closely tracking the number of the Iran protests martyrs, detainees and wounded, on December 15, 2019, announced there were more than 1500 martyrs. The MEK also published the names and pictures of over 750 martyrs.
On December 23, Reuters in its special report, while citing two of the regime’s officials, confirmed there have been over 1500 deaths during the nationwide uprising in November.
Prior to Zolnouri, head of the parliament’s security commission and regime’s security figure, the regime’s Minister of Interior, Abdolreza Rahamani Fazli, announced there was around 250 were killed during the Iran protests. Like Zoulnouri, who blatantly claimed “52 of those killed were security forces,” Rahmani Fazli also said: “Some 40 to 45 people were killed with unofficial and unregistered guns,” trying to shift the blame on a third party and yet justifying the regime’s brutal suppression of protesters.
Meanwhile, footages obtained by the MEK and circulating on the internet show the regime’s forces shooting people at point-blank range, using clubs and axes, and beating protesters to death.
Fearing further revelation of its crime, the regime imposed an unprecedented internet blackout for days. In addition to their fear of the international campaign led by the Iranian Resistance to condemn the regime’s atrocities and the subsequent worldwide condemnation of the regime’s crimes, the mullahs were afraid of the protesters reaching out to the Iranian Resistance.
In this regard, Rahmani Fazli said: “They say Rahmani shut down the internet on those days. I surely did. Because they were commanding and training [people] through the internet. Why are people upset? They were looking to start a civil war. As the country’s security officials, we had been tracking their activities; they were planning for months. The fuel price [hike] sparked this. It had a vast social aspect and field, yet it should have been much larger than this. They wanted to make chaos in the country and turn our country into another Syria. Preserving [the regime’s] security is our priority.”
The regime tries to use the current international crisis, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, to give a number of deaths during Iran protests to both free itself from the international pressure and avoid another round of protests by the Iranian people who have said on many occasions that “1500 is the number of martyrs in November.”
Facing a restive society and increasing international isolation, the regime continues its cover-up and downplaying of all the crisis and the mullahs’ crimes to avoid nationwide protests or further international pressure. Because the regime is not able to control the next uprising. The mullahs have been downplaying the real figure of the death due to the COVID-19, while sources from inside Iran and the MEK network have announced there have been over 48,500 death across Iran.
Following the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner killing all its 176 passengers aboard, Tehran chose silence and cover-up of this crisis, blaming the crash on a technical issue. Once the information leaked and footages showed IRGC missiles downing the airliner, the regime was forced to admit to it, and another round of protests erupted, with people calling the mullahs the root of all problems and unanimously demanding regime change. For this reason, the regime now tries to use the momentum to somehow get away with its crime against humanity committed during the nationwide Iran protests in November. It has continued and will continue by torturing and condemning those arrested during protests to death.
On the other hand, even the regime’s own claims of killing over 200 people show how brutally the regime’s forces suppressed the protesters and once again underline the need for the international community to intervene and condemn the regime. As the Iranian Resistance has repeatedly said, the United Nations and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should immediately intervene, condemn the regime’s atrocities and prevent the regime from committing further human rights violations, and secure the release of all the detained protesters, particularly amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Major Iran protests erupted in November 2019 triggering the greatest existential crisis in the regime’s 40-year history. Protesters took to the streets in at least 191 cities calling for regime change. The regime has resorted to brute repression, killing at least 1500 protesters and arresting thousands more. It also shut down Iran’s internet completely for a week, blocking images of the protests from reaching the outside world.