Published: Wed, December 04, 2019

Protest death toll numbers reported overseas 'sheer lies', says Iran

Protest death toll numbers reported overseas 'sheer lies', says Iran

Altogether, from 180 to 450 people, and possibly more, were killed in four days of intense violence after the gasoline price increase was announced on November 15, with at least 2,000 wounded and 7,000 detained, according to worldwide rights organizations, opposition groups and local journalists.

At least 208 people in Iran have been killed amid protests over sharply rising gasoline prices and a subsequent crackdown by security forces, Amnesty International said Monday, as one government official acknowledged telling police to shoot demonstrators.

The Arab population of the surrounding oil-rich province long has complained of discrimination by Iran's central government, and insurgent groups have attacked oil pipelines there. "Real statistics are seriously different from what they announce, and numbers are far less than what they claim". After a monthly 60-liter quota, it costs 30,000 rials a liter.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried the Iranian government's crackdown on protesters, saying Tehran is killing its citizens for speaking out at demonstrations.

Other rights groups and sources inside Iran said the death toll was close to 400.

The government had previously acknowledged the deaths of only a handful of people and continues to decline to give an official estimate of the total number killed, but officials in the country have talked publicly in recent days of ordering security forces to fire on demonstrators trying to storm government buildings.

Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world's fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran's United Nations mission in NY called Amnesty's findings "unsubstantiated", without elaborating. That's almost 24 cents a litre or 90 cents a gallon.

An Iranian legislator said last week that about 7,000 protesters had been arrested. An average gallon of regular gas in the USA costs $2.58 by comparison, according to AAA. The cost of daily staples also has risen.

On Tuesday, Trump kept up the pressure, alleging without evidence that Iran was "killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak".

"The United States of America supports the fearless people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM", the president tweeted on Tuesday while attending a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in London.

Trump later clarified his position, explaining during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he misunderstood the original question as being about financial, rather than political, support.

"We do support them totally and have supported them from the beginning", he said.

In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with Yusuf bin Alawi, Oman's minister for foreign affairs.

Shortly after the protests began, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put out a statement telling the protesters that "the United States is with you".

Iran has criticized the USA efforts to build an alliance to protect shipping in the Gulf, saying countries in the region can protect waterways used by oil tankers. Abe traveled to Iran in June but received a lecture from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on how Trump couldn't be trusted.

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