Iranian Lawyers Call For Probe Into Deadly Crackdown On Protests

A total of 160 Iranian lawyers have called for an investigation into a deadly crackdown against protests that hit some 100 cities and towns last month.

The lawyers made the plea in an open letter to President Hassan Rohani that was published on the opposition news site Kalameh on December 9.

Calling for the accountability and transparency of the state, the letter said the perpetrators of the crackdown should be dismissed from their positions and punished.

Iranian authorities have yet to publish any definitive official death toll for the several days of unrest triggered by a sharp hike in gas prices.

But the London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International says at least 208 people died as a result of what it called a “shameful disregard for human life.”

The UN’s human rights chief has accused Iran’s security forces of using “severe violence” against the protesters.

Several thousand people are said to have been detained.

In their letter, the lawyers accused Rohani of “pouring salt on the wounds” instead of comforting Iranians following the violent incidents.

They said that describing the protests as being part of a “plot” by Iran’s enemies and ignoring the real causes of the demonstrators’ grievances deepen the gap between the country’s leadership and the people.

The lawyers also expressed concern about the fate of those detained and their families.

On December 6, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed alarm at the continuing lack of transparency about casualties and the treatment of those detained in the wake of the protests.

Bachelet said that her office had received “footage which appears to show security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs — in other words shooting to kill.”

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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