Iran committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in 2019 crackdown: lawyers

Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

LONDON: Iran’s government and security forces committed “crimes against humanity” in their suppression of huge nationwide protests in 2019, an international panel of lawyers probing the crackdown concluded on Friday.

The Iran Atrocities (Aban) Tribunal, which was convened by various human rights groups, heard evidence from over 250 witnesses as it investigated whether the Iranian regime broke international law in its response to the demonstrations. The protests, of a magnitude rarely seen in Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and being repeated across the country in recent weeks, erupted nationwide in November 2019 after a sudden hike in fuel prices.

Activists say the authorities managed to impose control only after a ruthless crackdown that, according to Amnesty International, left at least 304 people dead in a deliberate policy to The London tribunal said expert evidence suggested that the actual number killed was likely far larger and possibly as high as 1,515. “The panel unanimously finds... beyond a reasonable doubt that the Iranian government and the security forces designed and implemented a plan to commit crimes against humanity,” the tribunal’s six legal experts said in their judgment summary.

It found various branches of the regime -- from the interior ministry to the feared Basij militia -- conducted murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence to quell the protests and conceal its crimes.

Five of the six serving as jurists also concluded that protesters and bystanders were “discriminately targeted for their collective involvement in the protests or their perceived association” with them.