News and Commentary

Iranian Supreme Leader Personally Ordered Slaughter Of Protesters As Death Toll Skyrockets, Report Says
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei presents statements regarding ongoing protests across Iran against petrol price increases, in Tehran, Iran on November 27, 2019.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly ordered the slaughter of over a thousand protesters, including hundreds of women, last month as demonstrators took to the streets across the Islamic nation in protest over rising fuel costs.

“Gathering his top security and government officials together, he issued an order: Do whatever it takes to stop them,” Reuters reported earlier this week. “That order, confirmed by three sources close to the supreme leader’s inner circle and a fourth official, set in motion the bloodiest crackdown on protesters since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.”

“About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15,” Reuters added. “The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.”

The figures obtained by Reuters, which are significantly higher than estimates made by Amnesty International and the United States State Department, came from Iranian officials and were based on information compiled by Iran’s military and records from hospitals and morgues.

“The Islamic Republic is in danger,” Khamenei said on November 17. “Do whatever it takes to end it. You have my order.”

During the first week of December, Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to Iran, told reporters that the U.S. had credible evidence that Iran has murdered at least 1,000 unarmed protesters.

“On November 16th, protests were spreading throughout the country. In Mahshahr, a city in southwest Iran, a number of Iranian demonstrators blocked a road,” Hook said. “Without warning, the IRGC opened fire on the protesters, killing several people.  Many of the protesters fled to nearby marshlands to escape.”

“The IRGC tracked them down and surrounded them with machine guns mounted on trucks. They then sprayed the protesters with bullets,” Hook continued. “Between the rounds of machine gun fire, the screams of the victims can be heard. In this one incident alone, the regime murdered as many as a hundred Iranians and possibly more. When it was over, the regime loaded the bodies into trucks. We do not yet know where these bodies went, but we are learning more and more about how the Iranian regime treats its own people.”

Hook said that thousands more Iranians were wounded during the protests and that at least 7,000 were taken to prisons in Iran that are notorious for human rights abuses.

“Well, this is based on – some of it is – it’s a collection of crowdsourcing intelligence, intelligence reports from groups that have been publishing the death toll,” Hook said as he explained how the State Department arrived at its estimate of at least 1,000 dead protesters. “As the regime has slowly restored the internet, we have more videos and more information leaking from the country. And so we know for certain it is many, many hundreds … and we are now at the many hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, and this – look, we had protests in a hundred cities, and we saw how the regime responded. The supreme leader referred to his own people as thugs, and this was a brutal crackdown.”