Iranian general says 300 killed in protests — including 'martyrs'

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps divisional commander says many of the dead had not been involved in demonstrations

A woman at a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul. The US is lobbying for Iran to be removed from a UN women's equality body. AFP
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An Iranian general has admitted more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding nationwide protests, providing the first official word on casualties in two months.

Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said on Monday more than 300 people have been killed, including “martyrs” — an apparent reference to security forces personnel.

He suggested many of those killed were Iranians not involved in the protests.

Gen Hajizadeh did not provide an exact figure or say where his estimate came from.

Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in custody in September. She had been detained by the morality police in Tehran for wearing her hijab “improperly”.

The unrest has turned into a popular revolt by Iranians from all parts of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Gen Hajizadeh repeated the official claim that the protests have been fomented by the West and Saudi Arabia, without providing evidence.

His estimate is lower than the toll reported by US-based group Human Rights Activists in Iran.

It claims 451 protesters and 60 security forces have been killed since the start of the unrest and that more than 18,000 people have been detained.

Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights put the death toll at around 300.

Iranian rapper and regime critic Toomaj Salehi could face the death penalty after being charged with “corruption on earth”, a judiciary official said on Sunday.

The official confirmed the charge to state-affiliated media, but denied claims from rights groups that his trial had started.

Salehi is also charged with spreading propaganda against the regime, an accusation commonly levelled against critics of the government.

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Meanwhile, a US push for Iran to be removed from a UN women's equality body will be voted on December 14, diplomats said on Monday.

The US is lobbying for Iran to be punished over its denial of women's rights and its crackdown on protests.

Washington circulated a draft resolution on the move on Monday. It condemns Iran's policies as “flagrantly contrary to the human rights of women and girls and to the mandate of the Commission on the Status of Women”, Reuters reported.

Iran has just started a four-year term on the 45-member commission, which meets every March and aims to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The US-drafted resolution would “remove with immediate effect” Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women for the rest of the 2022 to 2026 term.

The 54-member UN Economic and Social Council will vote on whether to remove Iran.

“The US and others have been actively working the phones to garner support to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women,” a UN diplomat told Reuters.

“It seems like they're making traction — including with some initially hesitant countries.”

The UN Rights Council last week voted to appoint an independent investigation into Iran's repression of protests, passing the motion to cheers of activists.

Iran accused western countriesof using the council to target Iran in an “appalling and disgraceful” move.

Updated: November 29, 2022, 2:32 PM