Iran Human Rights director: ‘at least 185 people killed by authorities so far’

8 October 2022, 17:29 | Updated: 11 November 2022, 16:48

Melissa Fleur Afshar

By Melissa Fleur Afshar

'Women are giving their lives just to get their fundamental rights.'

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the non-profit human rights organisation Iran Human Rights told Andrew Castle at least 185 people have been killed by authorities in the protests sweeping across Iran.

Mr Amiry-Moghaddam’s findings come from research undertaken by Iran Human Rights.

The demonstrations began on September 16, when furious crowds gathered to demand justice for the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s 'morality’ police.

The nation-wide protests have since grown into a demand for fundamental human rights, women’s freedoms, and an end to the corrupt theocratic regime that has kept grip of Iran for 43 years.

“At least 185 people have been killed by the authorities [in this series of protests],” said Mr Amiry-Moghaddam. “And they are still coming out onto the streets". 

In an exchange with Andrew Castle, Mr Amiry-Moghaddam said: “What we are seeing is a revolution of dignity done by women, we had Rosa Parks, now we have Iranian girls giving their lives to get fundamental rights and the world is watching as it is happening”.

While the regime’s authorities have applied brutality to deter the peaceful protests, restricted internet access, and spread disinformation, the protest movement has prevailed.

This has not been without further tragedy, as two 16-year-old’s Sarina Esmailzadeh and Nika Shakarami who joined the protests against the government were killed by authorities. In total, it has been reported that dozens children have lost their lives during the uprisings.

Iranian authorities quickly declared that Nika died by falling from a building, after potentially being pushed by workmen. It has been widely circulated that it took her family many days to learn about her fate and receive her body. 

The statement made by the Iranian authorities has been unanimously discredited, with Nika’s own mother expressing that her body appeared largely unhurt expect for the presence of a large skull fracture at the back of her head.

Amid fears and pressure from the government to support its claims, members of Nika’s family were silenced from revealing their true thoughts on the circumstances surrounding her death.

Yesterday, in a breakthrough, Nika’s mother Nazrin sent a video to the US-funded media company, Radio Farda, which denounces the regime’s claims and details Nika's skull fracture.

“This is not just a mother talking under normal circumstances," said Mr Amiry Moghaddam. "She is risking her life by telling the truth as the authorities try to cover it up".

READ MORE: Teenage Iranian protester was murdered, her mother says.

He continued that Nika's family members have been threatened, and that some of them have been forced to come on television and ‘confess’ that their daughter had committed suicide. 

Mr Amiry-Moghaddam went on to paint a picture of the general mood in Iran, and outlined the universal appeal of the protest movement.

“We are talking about the young, the old, and all parts of society coming onto the streets empty handed, asking for their fundamental rights and they are largely protesting in a very civilised way,” he said. 

“On the other side we have the armed security forces, you can compare them to Isis, they have that kind of ideology, they have been shooting at the people, and Nika and Sarina had been beaten in the head by batons". 

Andrew went on to ask Mr Aminy-Moghaddam what he thinks Western governments and populations should do to support the Iranian people in their demand for fundamental rights.

“Ordinary people have enormous power in democratic countries,” said Mr Amiry-Moghaddam. 

He then asked the British public to give clear support for the Iranian people, and called on the United Nations to establish a mechanism which investigates and holds those responsible for these brutalities accountable.

Mr Amiry-Moghaddam noted that this is achievable, having been implemented in the context of Syria, but warned that it requires pressure from the public.

Mahsa Amini was arrested on the September 13 in Iran’s capital, Tehran, for supposedly wearing a ‘bad’ hijab. Under the Islamic Republic of Iran, headscarves are mandatory and all women by law must cover their hair when outside of their homes. 

Miss Amini was swiftly separated from her brother, who was told that she'd be taken to a detention centre for a short 'education lesson'.

READ MORE: Iran’s supreme leader blames US over protests following woman’s death.

Hours later, Miss Amini was transferred from the police station where she’d been held and taken to a hospital.

She fell into a coma and died three days later. There were signs that showed she'd sustained a head injury. The regime's authorities quickly announced that Miss Amini had died after suddenly experiencing a heart attack in the police station.
However, eyewitnesses and other detainees combatted these claims and shared in interviews that Miss Amini had been beaten inside the police vehicle she'd been transported away in. 

Miss Amini's family have stated that she was a healthy young woman with no underlying medical conditions that could prompt sudden cardiac arrest.

News of her death sparked fury.

Protests have been sweeping Iran for three weeks now, with many demonstrations seeing women tearing off their mandatory hijabs, cutting off their hair, and setting their headscarves on fire.

Through tracing hashtag usage, foreign analysts learned that in Iran the internet had been restricted. Still, Iranians continued to defy these rules and have shared videos of the situation on social media in hopes that they will gain traction in the west. Many of the videos bare the slogan, ‘be our voice.’