An international “people’s tribunal” which began hearings in London yesterday on the Iranian authorities’ killing and wounding of thousands of protesters and bystanders during nationwide protests in November 2019 is a powerful initiative against impunity and must serve as a wake-up call for all UN member states, Amnesty International said today.
During the four-day hearing, the International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities of November 2019 will hear evidence from dozens of witnesses, including protesters, victims’ relatives, torture survivors, healthcare workers and former security officials. Several expert witnesses will also testify before the tribunal, which will be presided over by prominent lawyers and judges. Among the expert witnesses is Amnesty International’s Researcher on Iran, Raha Bahreini, scheduled to appear before the tribunal today at 10am (GMT).
“Despite repeated calls by Amnesty International and others, UN member states have yet to mandate an independent international inquiry into crimes under international law and serious human rights violations committed by the Iranian authorities during and in the aftermath of the November 2019 protests, including unlawful killings of protesters and bystanders, mass arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances and torture,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“There must be an end to this systematic impunity afforded to perpetrators of this state-sanctioned crackdown. The hearings at the International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities of November 2019 are crucial for ensuring that these atrocities do not fade into memory. Crucially, the tribunal must spur UN member states into action, both at the current session of the UN General Assembly and the next session of the UN Human Rights Council, to pave the way for the accountability that is so desperately needed.”
Amnesty International is urging all UN member states to pay close attention to the testimonies and other evidence presented at the tribunal, and to fulfilltheir responsibility to tackle impunity by establishing through the UN Human Rights Council an independent mechanism to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of serious crimes under international law committed in Iran to facilitate fair criminal proceedings.
Remembering the victims of Iran’s killing spree
Since May 2020, when Amnesty International released the details of 304 men, women and children killed by Iran’s security forces during the protests, which erupted following sudden overnight hikes in fuel prices, the organization has recorded the names and details of 24 more victims, bringing the total number of recorded deaths to 323*.
However, the organization believes the real number of deaths is higher, with many Iranians fearing reprisals from the authorities if they were to speak out or go public with information about those killed in the crackdown.
Today, Amnesty International is releasing an updated list of the names and details of protesters and bystanders identified as being killed during the protests of November 2019.
The organization is aware of scores of additional names reported online yet currently lacks sufficient verified details to include them in its list. The organization has published a list of these reported names in Persian on its Telegram, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and invites anyone with further information about them or other victims hitherto unknown to contact the organization.
“By uncovering and recording the names and details of those killed, we seek not only to reveal the horrifying scale of the Iranian authorities’ killing spree in November 2019, but also to honour the memory of every single human life lost in the protests,” said Heba Morayef.
“We hope the weight of evidence presented at the tribunal will compel states to recognize that when national avenues for justice are completely absent, it is their duty to step in and act through institutions like the UN Human Rights Council to mandate an impartial and independent investigation to ensure truth, justice and reparation for these heinous crimes.”
The hearings of the International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities of November 2019 will run from 10-14 November 2021 at Church House, Westminster, London and are open to the public. They can also be watched live. The panel is due to deliver its judgement in early 2022.
Protests erupted in Iran on 15 November 2019 following a sudden government announcement about a fuel price hike. The focus of the protests quickly expanded from concerns about the price of fuel to broader grievances against the political establishment, including demands for constitutional reforms and an end to the Islamic Republic system.
During and following the protests between 15 and 19 November 2019, in addition to killing hundreds of protesters and bystanders including children, Iranian authorities arbitrarily detained thousands of protesters and bystanders and subjected hundreds to enforced disappearance, torture or other ill-treatment, and flagrantly unfair trials. The authorities carried out their lethal crackdown amid a near-total countrywide internet shutdown, which they deliberately imposed between 16 and 27 November 2019 to hide the true scale of the crimes and human rights violations they committed.
The Iranian authorities continue to cover up the death toll of people killed during the November 2019 protests. They announced the deaths of 230 people in June 2020, but blamed unknown attackers for most killings and praised security and intelligence forces for their role in suppressing the protests.
Amnesty International has found the security forces’ use of lethal force against the vast majority of those killed was unlawful.
*The total figure of recorded deaths currently stands at 323 as five entries previously recorded in the list issued in May 2020 have been removed. These entries concerned deaths in the cities of Shahriar, Malard and Kermanshah which were confirmed, but the identities of the victims remained unknown. To prevent double-counting, these entries have been replaced with five of the 24 newly identified victims.