UNOG Bi-weekly press briefing: Iran- OHCHR
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Edited News | OHCHR , UNOG

UNOG Bi-weekly press briefing: Iran- OHCHR

Live ammunition reportedly used against widespread protests in Iran – UN human rights office

Reports indicating that dozens of people have been killed in protests across Iran – some by live ammunition - are of deep concern, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said on Tuesday.

Citing Iranian media coverage since the demonstrations began last Friday, sparked by a rise in fuel prices, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had acknowledged some fatalities.

“We are deeply concerned by reported violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, including the firing of live ammunition, against demonstrators in Iran during the protests that began on Friday and have continued into this week,” Mr. Colville said.

“It would suggest that it is not simply the immediate trigger to the protest which was a rise in fuel prices, but …much deeper-seated problems persisting in the country.”

More than 1,000 protesters have also been arrested, the OHCHR official added, although details were difficult to verify, since OHCHR does not have an office in the country and the Government had imposed internet restrictions.

“Overall, protests have reportedly been held in 40 or more towns and cities across the country, but again details have been hard to verify because of the shutdown of the internet late on Saturday,” Mr. Colville explained.

“There are increasing reports suggesting the numbers killed are certainly in the dozens, in at least two figures, some reports even higher. So, it would be very useful to have a better, clearer picture but it is clearly very significant, very alarming situation and widespread across the country.”

In an appeal to security officials to avoid using force, Mr. Colville called on the authorities to issue clear instructions that they should abide by international norms and standards.

Firearms should only be used in cases of an imminent threat to life or of serious injury and only when less extreme measures are insufficient to address such a threat when dispersing peaceful assemblies, he said.

Protesters should for their part carry out demonstrations without resorting to physical violence or the destruction of property, he insisted, while also calling on the Government to re-establish access to the internet immediately, as well as other forms of communication.

“We would encourage States to maintain the flow of information; if there’s false information they can rebut it, but let’s see the information,” he told reporters, noting that Iran was a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

And in reference to sanctions “imposed by the United States” that were among the serious economic challenges gripping the country, the UN human rights office spokesperson urged the authorities to “engage in meaningful dialogue” with Iranians.

“Simply responding with harsh words and an iron fist raises  a significant risk not only of violating international norms and standards but also of seriously aggravating the situation to everyone’s disadvantage, including the Government’s,” he said, noting that protests “of this nature…cannot simply be brushed aside”.

 

  1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations, Geneva.
  2. Medium shot, journalists and podium with speakers, Room III. 
  3. Medium shot, journalists listening with earpieces, taking notes and looking at laptops, Room III.
  4. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “We are deeply concerned by reported violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, including the firing of live ammunition, against demonstrators in Iran during the protests that began on Friday and have continued into this week.”
  5. Medium shot, UNTV members, Room III.
  6. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “Overall, protests have reportedly been held in 40 or more towns and cities across the country, but again, details have been hard to verify because of the shutdown of the internet late on Saturday.” 
  7. Medium shot, journalists writing on their laptops, Room III. 
  8. SOUNDBITE (English)— Rupert Colville, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “There are increasing reports suggesting the numbers killed are certainly in the dozens, in at least two figures, some reports even higher. So, it would be very useful to have a better, clearer picture but it is clearly very significant, very alarming situation and widespread across the country.”
  9. Medium shot, journalists writing on laptops in profile, Room III. 
  10. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “We don’t know the extent – we don’t know the extent of the killings, of the injuries, but it is clearly very serious and taking place in many parts of the country. And that means more than the – as in so many of these cases - it would suggest that it is not simply the immediate trigger to the protest which was a rise in fuel prices, but something much deeper-seated…problems persisting in the country.”
  11. Medium shot, journalists, Room III. 
  12. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “We would encourage States to maintain the flow of information; if there’s false information they can rebut it, but let’s see the information.”
  13. Medium shot, journalists, Room III. 
  14. Close up, journalist writing on notepad, podium to rear, Room III. 
  15. Medium shot, journalists in front and rear of shot, Room III.

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