Amnesty International, citing “credible reports,” said Tuesday it believes at least 106 people have been killed during protests in Iran over a rise in government-set gasoline prices.
Iran’s government, which has not made nationwide numbers available for the toll of the unrest that began Sunday, did not immediately respond to the report.
Amnesty added that it “believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed.”
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that the protests have been a security matter, rather than caused by fuel prices, and not carried out by the people.
"Friends and enemies should know we have pushed the enemy back in the military, political and security war arena," his official website quoted him as saying. "This work of these days has been security work, not from the people."
Iran since has shut down the internet and deployed police and anti-riot forces to quell the unrest. Demonstrations are believed to still be going on in the country.
Hard-liners in Iran meanwhile threatened violent protesters Tuesday with executions by hanging as sporadic demonstrations still gripped pockets of the country over government-set gasoline prices rising, unrest a United Nations agency fears may have killed “a significant number of people.”
It remains unclear how many people have been arrested, injured or killed in the protests that began Friday and quickly spread across at least 100 cities and towns in Iran. Authorities shut down internet access to the outside world Saturday, an outage that persisted Monday across the nation of 80 million people.
Officials also haven’t given any public accounting for the overall toll of the violence. State media showed video of burned Qurans at one mosque in the suburbs of the capital, Tehran, as well as pro-government rallies.
Absent though in the coverage was an acknowledgement of what sparked the demonstrations in the first place. Gasoline prices rising represents yet another burden on Iranians who have suffered through a painful currency collapse, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and the re-imposition of crippling U.S. sanctions.
Relatively moderate President Rohani has promised that the fuel price rise will be used to fund subsidies for low-income families. But the decision has unleashed widespread anger among Iranians.
Maryam Kazemi, a 29-year-old accountant in the southern Tehran suburb of Khaniabad, said that the hefty hike in fuel prices was “putting pressure on ordinary people.”
“It was a bad decision at a bad time. The economic situation has long been difficult for people and Rohani unexpectedly implemented the decision on fuel,” she said.
Reuters contributed to this report
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