Rouhani says unrest quashed with up to a hundred dead according to NGOs and the UN

The Iranian president claims protests were successfully suppressed. Today thousands march in support of the government. For Supreme leader Khamenei, protests were not a grassroot movement but a “security” issue. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concerns over the excessive use of force.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iranian President Rouhani claimed victory this morning over protests against fuel price hikes that left scores dead, which he blamed on Iran’s “foreign enemies”.

Dozens of people, perhaps up to a hundred, may have been killed in the crackdown, international NGOs and UN experts fear.

“The Iranian people have again succeeded at an historic test and shown that they will not let enemies benefit from the situation, even though they might have complaints about the country’s management,” Rouhani said. “The spontaneous (pro-government) demonstrations which you see is the greatest sign of the power of the Iranian people,” he added.

This morning, thousands of Iranians joined pro-government rallies in several cities after Amnesty International said that more than a hundred protesters were killed by Iranian security forces.

State media carried pictures of Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s top security agency, marching in Shahryar behind a banner that read “Death to America and Israel’s deception!”

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday the protests were a security matter, not a grassroot movement, and had been dealt with successfully.

International NGOs disagree. At least 106 protesters in 21 cities were killed, according to witness reports, verified videos and information from human rights activists. Other reports put the death toll at around 200 with 3,000 wounded over the past five days.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights said that it was deeply concerned by reported violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, including the firing of live ammunition, against unarmed demonstrators.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations called some of the reports “baseless allegations and fabricated figures”.

The protests began last Friday, following the government's unexpected decision to ration fuel and remove subsidies, triggering a surge in prices that in some cases reached 50 per cent.

This follows US President Donald Trump's decision in May 2018 to pull out of the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) ​​and impose the toughest sanctions in history, which hit hard the population and triggered a serious economic crisis.