The United Nations posted an article on its website titled “Independent rights experts sound alarmed at Iran protest crackdown, internet blackout”. The article said in part:
“Reports of killed and maimed demonstrators, and a continuing nationwide internet shutdown in Iran’s now week-long protests are of ‘grave concern’, and the Government and authorities must ensure rights of expression and opinion are protected.”
“We are deeply concerned at reports of killings and injuries, and that the authorities may have used excessive force against those participating in the protests”, the experts added, referencing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as setting the standard for the legitimate use of force as being only when “strictly unavoidable”.
The latest reports pointed out that more than 251 protesters have been killed until now. More than 7,000 were arrested, while the real numbers are much higher. Many of the protesters were killed by live ammunition from security forces. Reports from inside the country said that the security forces were ordered to shoot the people in the upper body and in the head.
Exact details have been made harder to verify due to the internet shutdown by the government that began late Saturday, 16 November.
“We remind the Government of its obligations under the Covenant and call upon the authorities to ensure that the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as freedom of peaceful assembly and association, are respected and protected”, the UN experts said.
#IranProtests: We are concerned by reported use of force against demonstrators & alarmed that live ammunition has allegedly caused significant number of deaths. Such protests are an indication of deep-rooted grievances that cannot simply be brushed aside: https://t.co/DnSJ8X3U99 pic.twitter.com/GU5MUyfBeF
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) November 19, 2019
Pulling the plug on internet access points to wider concerns of censorship, the independent experts said: “A country-wide network shutdown of this kind clearly has a political purpose: to suppress the right of Iranians to access information and to communicate at a time of rising protest. Such an illegitimate step deprives Iranians not only of fundamental freedom but also basic access to essential services.”
The Iranian government has warned of decisive action should protests not subside, which raises serious concerns that the situation could spiral further, the experts said.
The group, Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.