EU demands Iran stops violence against protesters

Amnesty International says well over 100 people have been killed

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The European Union has criticised the violence used by Iranian authorities in dealing with recent protesters and urged restraint.

A spokesperson said internet access must be allowed amid reports of a widespread information blackout.

Amnesty International says more than 100 people have been killed across Iran although the death toll could be much higher. The demonstrations, which have spread to more than 100 cities, were sparked by a fuel price hike in mid-November.

“Socio-economic challenges should be addressed through inclusive dialogue and not through the use of violence. We expect Iran's security forces to exercise maximum restraint in handling the protests and for protesters to demonstrate peacefully,” an EU statement said.

“Any violence is unacceptable. The rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be guaranteed. We also expect the Iranian authorities to ensure the free flow of information and access to the internet,” it added.

Amnesty said state media had barely covered the protests and reported only a few deaths. Verified footage appears to show authorities tear gas, violence and live ammunition to deal with the demonstrations.

“The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy,” said Philip Luther at Amnesty International.

Top Iranian officials have blamed exiles and foreign enemies for the protests but offered little evidence to back up the claims.