Iranian security forces have killed at least 488 people in a crackdown on protests, the Human Rights Group of Iran (IHR) said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said “more than 300 martyrs and people” had been killed in the unrest, the first time authorities have acknowledged such a number.
In mid-September, protests erupted in Iran over the death in police custody of young Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly not wearing her veil in accordance with the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
At least 488 people killed – NGO
Of the 488 people killed, 60 were children, said the IHR, an NGO.
In the past week alone, 16 people have been killed, 12 of them in predominantly Kurdish areas.
Kurdish-inhabited areas of Iran have been major sites of unrest. Amini herself comes from the Kurdish town of Saqez in western Iran.
“The numbers are a minimum and only include cases verified by Iran Human Rights,” the organization said.
In addition to the Kurdish region, areas inhabited by the Baloch minority have also been the target of repression, said IHR director Amiry-Moghaddam. Most of the deaths were registered in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Balochistan, which is majority Baloch, where 128 people were killed.
Kurds mainly live in western Iran and some neighboring countries, while the Baloch live in southeastern Iran and parts of Pakistan. The Baloch are predominantly Sunni, while Iran has a Shia Muslim majority.
Last week, the UN Judicial Council voted to open an investigation into Tehran’s crackdown on protests.
“The authorities know very well that if they cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission, an even greater extent of their crimes will be exposed,” Amiry-Moghaddam said, adding that he did not expect the authorities to cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission would .
Authorities report over 300 dead
“I don’t have the latest figures, but I think we may have had more than 300 martyrs and people killed,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said in a video released by Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency.
Among those killed were some of the “best sons in the country,” the Revolutionary Guards general said, adding that “everyone in the country is affected [Amini’s] Death.”
The figure includes protesters killed in the crackdown, as well as dozens of police, troops and Revolutionary Guards killed in clashes.
This is the first time the Iranian authorities have recognized such a number.