Iran’s Guards accused of reckless killing of ten protesters
LONDON - Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired on unarmed protesters in Sistan and Baluchestan province last month, killing at least ten people, including a 17-year old boy, rights organisation Amnesty International said, urging for criminal investigations.
Amnesty accused the IRGC, Iran’s omnipresent paramilitary force, of displaying “callous disregard for human life” by firing on unarmed Baluchi fuel porters near the town of Saravan, and said “there must be urgent, independent criminal investigations into these unlawful killings, in line with international law and standards.”
“Anyone against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence must be prosecuted in a fair trial, without resorting to the death penalty,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The lethal violence unleashed on members of Iran’s largely impoverished Baluchi minority, who the province’s governor accused of trying to enter a military base and engaging in “destructive action,” was not justified under international law because they posed no imminent threat, Amnesty argued.
“The official justification the Iranian authorities have given for their deadly use of live ammunition reflects their complete disregard for international standards on the use of firearms. It also shows a shameless contempt for their obligations to respect and preserve human life and to ensure that public officials do not carry out extrajudicial executions by illegal use of firearms,” said Eltahawy.
Amnesty verified the account through eyewitnesses and video footage confirming that IRGC members intentionally fired weapons at protesters who posed no serious threat.
One eyewitness heard in an audio recording acquired by the rights organisation said: “We begged the Revolutionary Guards to open the road, but they made false promises and kept us waiting. People felt pushed to break the metal barrier themselves, and when doing so, the Revolutionary Guards began shooting at them. The drivers of five or six cars who were passing through were shot dead. After seeing this scene, other fuel porters began screaming and yelling and the Revolutionary Guards fired towards them as well, leaving many dead or injured.”
Baluchi fuel porters, who are often forced to pay bribes to IRGC officers at the borders, often endure extreme poverty and face deep-seated discrimination. After the February 22 violence, the IRGC was accused of cracking down on demonstrations in response to the killings, deploying “live ammunition, pointed metal pellets, and tear gas, against men, women and children,” Amnesty reported.