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Iranian Regime’s Fear of Announcing Death Toll From November 2019 Protests

The martyrs of the November 2019 uprising in Iran

and the Iranian regime’s promises to give the real number, Mojtaba Zolnoor, the Chairman of the National Security Commission in the new Parliament said: “2000 people were present at the scene and 5000 officers were injured and the number of the people killed is 230.”

This means that in the last six months, five people have been identified every four days. Were six months necessary to identify 230 killed people?

About the regime’s secrecy, the state-run daily Mostaghel on 18 February 2020 wrote: “None of the state-sponsored press and news agencies were permitted to broadcast accurate news. For this reason, and unofficially, they lost the media authority in the country.”

To bypass its parliamentary election on 21 February 2020 and face no turbulence, the regime decided to announce the numbers after this date.

“Authorities waiting so that the conditions of the announcement calm down and bypass the election. Does announcing the number after all this time persuade public opinion?” (Jahan Sanat, 18 February 2020)

The day before the election, the government spokesman promised to announce the numbers “in the next few days.”

“The statistics will be announced in the next few days. This statistic is usually announced by the coroner’s office all over the world. A decision has been made in this regard and this statistic will be announced by one of the responsible agencies within the next few days,” the spokesman said. (State-run daily IRAN, 20 February 2020)

The question here is, despite that which the government spokesman said that the announcement of the statistics is with the coroner’s office, why did this not happen, and why was is announced by other parts of the government?

The answer is clear, the coroner’s office stated that he could not keep up with the high number of corpses. Everything is registered with the coroner’s office and it cannot reduce the statistics by 660% and lie. So, the political interests of the regime took precedence over any law.

The state-run daily Mostaghel wrote and considered this question: “The most important part of Rouhani’s press conference was the death of many of our compatriots during the November protests. Rouhani said the death toll was much lower than the number reported by Reuters. Assuming it is impossible if Rouhani’s statement is true, why didn’t the government provide these statistics after 3 months?”

A letter by the coroner’s office to the Minister of Interior in February 2020 about the keeping of the bodies of the victims of the November uprising stated: “The bodies of the dead were distributed in dozens of morgues, and the high number and lack of space have become a problem.” Does keeping the bodies of 230 people require “dozens of morgues”?

If there is no doubt in the statistics of the regime’s interior minister, they should publish the names and photos of these 230 victims and call on the families of the victims to publish the names and photos of their children or relatives who died in the November uprising.

“The government in the November protests, how it dealt with the protesters, showed a portrait from itself to the world which is as follow: ‘We are a government that does not allow any serious criticism to any non-governmental media, and the people are not allowed to protest on a subject and at any time and any places. And if these protesting people take to the streets and protest, sometimes expressing their anger, they must wait for our bullets! We protest that after about forty days of the incident, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies have not released any exact statistics on the number of casualties, while unofficial statistics are astonishing and catastrophic.” (State-run daily Ensaf news, 3 January 2020, an open letter from a group of activists, professors, students, and graduates of the field of justice regarding the events of November 2109 and the future of Iran addressed to the leadership (regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei).

The situation is so bad that even the regime’s insiders believe that such vulgar games are causing just the anger and hatred of the people against the regime:

“Every time we try to act with security measures, the demands of the people will be more intense, like the spring that compressed, and when the pressure is lifted from it, its power is much more and more intense. (Ali Tajernia, a former member of parliament, 31 May 2020)

“Why was it not announced in November that it would not have all these consequences? Now that it has been announced, at least it should be made amends, and the names, date, location, and cause of death should be announced so that there will be no more grievances.” (Etemad Online, 31 May)

Ardeshir Nourian, a former member of parliament, admitted to hiding the statistics of the killed people of the November 2019 uprising, and referring to the remarks of Rahmani Fazli, the regime’s interior minister, wrote:

“About six months after the November protests, the interior minister announced, not in full, but part of the death toll. If there is no transparency and the statistics are not told to the people, there will be an atmosphere in which foreign people will use it, and in this information failure, certainly, some people will join them. If the situation continues like this, we will have a crisis after another crisis.” (state-run daily Etemad, 1 June 2020)

Nasser Ghavami, a former member of parliament, said Rahmani-Fazli’s explanations were not convincing and that public confidence could not be restored so easily:

“Rahmani Fazli has not yet officially announced the exact number. These issues cannot be compensated. For example, in the very first minutes that the plane was hit by a missile, all high-ranking military officials were aware of it. But we saw that after three days of denial, they announced. The same is true of the events of November. These will definitely damage people’s trust. Within a week, they could announce the exact number of dead. People are now asking why didn’t you announce it earlier?”

Also, the state-run daily Jahan Sanat wrote on 1 June 2020: “The interior minister promised that the number of people killed in November would be announced these days, adding that the number was less than 250. Rahmani-Fazli’s remarks were not hidden from the media and were met with reactions and questions. For example, why did it take so long to count these two hundred deaths? Or what effect does this long pause in presenting statistics have on the reliability of the declared number? More importantly, what are the plans of the responsible gentlemen to compensate for the damaged public trust after this incident?”


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