- Over 200 people are estimated to be dead and 7,000 arrested in Iran since protests erupted in mid-November.
- Protests were sparked by an up to 300% increase in fuel prices which the government said would help care for the poor.
- The Iranian government has cast blame on its international foes for the protests and cracked down on the demonstrators with violence.
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More than 200 people have died during ongoing anti-government protests in Iran – the country’s worst civil unrest since the Islamic revolution 40 years ago.
What started as a protest in response to a 300% increase in fuel prices in mid-November has spread country-wide as Iranians voice discontent with slow economic growth, and cronyism. The death toll has risen to 208, according to Amnesty International.
It has seen municipal buildings and banks torched and the arrest of over 7,000 people as people clash with police, the Guardian reported.
Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing protests in Iran.
Protestors don’t believe the Iranian government’s official explanation for the price hike
Protestors stormed petrol stations, and blocked major roads with burning tires on November 15, a day after the government announced it would decrease subsidies on fuel, CNN reported.
The BBC reported that new measures stipulated that each motorist is allowed to buy 13 gallons (60 litres) of petrol a month at 15,000 rials (roughly $US0.13) a litre. Each additional litre then costs 30,000 rials.
Drivers were previously allowed up to 250 litres at 10,000 rials per litre.
In its announcement, the Iranian government argued that the increase will prevent “fuel smugglers” from exporting Iran’s oil to neighbouring countries and provide money to help the poor.
Analysts and opposition figures, however, believe that increase follows weak economic growth, rising inflation, corruption, and growing unemployment.
Additional US sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear build program in October have also worsened the situation, Reuters reported.
After the announcement of fuel price increases, the hashtag #300% went viral on Iranian social media as protests spread to 21 cities.
Iran threatened to kill demonstrators and sent out the troops
Soon after #300% went viral on Iranian social media, the state blocked internet access, and security forces clashed with protestors.
In response to the protests, authorities have called demonstrators “rioters” and threatened them with execution.
The government accused Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Israel for inciting the protests.
The Guardian reported that the state highlighted the role of the BBC in spreading what they called misinformation.
The country’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the protests were the work of a “very dangerous conspiracy,” Aljazeera reported.
State broadcasters have also been airing “confessions” of three protesters to prove that the protests were sparked by ulterior motives.
The Telegraph reported that Iranian officials have ‘stealing bodies’ from morgues to hide the true scale of the government crackdown on protestors.
The death toll has steadily risen
On November 27, Human Rights Watch said over 140 people were killed, and 7,000 people arrested in the days after protests broke out in over 100 locations in the country.
The internet had not been restored until November 24, more than a week after the protest began.
On Monday, Amnesty International said the number of people dead has grown to 208. The government is yet to release official numbers.
“This shocking death toll displays the Iranian authorities’ shameful disregard for human life,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International Middle East researcher, said.
Luther said they have received information that families of victims have been threatened 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, Luther said.
On Tuesday, state broadcaster acknowledged that security forces killed “rioters” during ongoing protests who it said attacked military centres and took people hostage, Aljazeera reported.
The Guardian reported that state-backed news agencies claim that since protests started 100 banks and 57 shops were set on fire or plundered. 69 banks were torched in Isfahan alone.
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