The Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran, founded by Nobel Peace Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, are strongly urging the Iranian government to uphold human rights and end its violent response to protests in the country. Iranians have taken to the streets in recent days to protest a sudden and sharp increase in gasoline prices. The Iranian government has responded to the protests with force and mass arrests.
“The Defenders of Human Rights Centre, in addition to expressing its condolences and extending its sympathy to families who have lost their loved ones, invites the Iranian government to exercise self-restraint in responding to the rightful protests of citizens. It also asks that the government recognize their right to peaceful demonstration in accordance with the Iranian constitution and international human rights laws,” said Shirin Ebadi in a statement today.
Internet access has also been blocked in the country. At least 12 people have been killed and thousands have been arrested.
Read the full statement from the Defenders of Human Rights Center below.
Iran protests: At least 12 killed at unrest over petrol price rise, BBC, 18 November 2019.
Iran’s protests: All you need to know in 600 words, Al Jazeera, 18 November 2019.
STATEMENT FROM SHIRIN EBADI AND DEFENDERS OF HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE:
In recent days, as a result of the sudden and unprecedented rise in gas prices in Iran, people have reacted to the decision by taking to the streets and holding demonstrations across the country. Regrettably and according to reports published by different news agencies, such protests have become violent as a result of interventions by police and security agents, leading to the death of dozens of our fellow Iranians and the injury of many more.
The Defenders of Human Rights Centre, in addition to expressing its condolences and extending its sympathy to families who have lost their loved ones, invites the Iranian government to exercise self-restraint in responding to the rightful protests of citizens. It also asks that the government recognize their right to peaceful demonstration in accordance with the Iranian constitution and international human rights laws.
Unfortunately, the decision to increase gas prices which was taken by the Supreme Economic Coordination Council without the prior knowledge of the Members of the Parliament, is against national interests and the Iranian constitution. In light of the high inflation and unemployment rates in the country, this decision has resulted in the increasing vulnerability of the low-income segments of society and has become a serious threat to their fundamental rights and will have worrying and grave consequences for Iranian society.
Sadly, the speech of Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, not only did nothing to diffuse and solve the current crisis, but labelling protestors as “insurgents” opened the way for their further repression by security forces and the police. Additionally, pursuant to his speech and support for the increase in gas prices, a proposal underway by a number of Members of Parliament intended to lower prices to previous levels, was discarded/revoked, diminishing the last hope of managing the current situation.
Since yesterday, and with the order of the National Security Council, people’s access to the internet has been blocked as the Iranian government has attempted to limit the transfer and dissemination of news and information and to block the justice and freedom seeking voice of Iranian citizens. It would thus be appropriate for Iranians to help each other during this time while maintaining unity and solidarity. Moreover, during this difficult situation and in light of the high number of injuries, the presence of nurses and doctors committed to the country is needed more than ever to tend to injured individuals.
The Defenders of Human Rights Centre, in addition to condemning the repression of the protests and the killing of individuals, sees the censorship activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its curtailment of the freedom of expression as gross violations of human rights. It, thus, urges the international community and human rights institutions and groups to condemn the Iranian government and to take action to prevent the further escalation of the situation.
Chair of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre
17 November 2019