For half a century, activists fear that Iran will not do justice to the protest killings

Following the protests by Iran, which have claimed more than 200 deaths, rights groups fear the real number is too high and that no one will get justice.

Protests sparked across Iran from November 15-19, following fuel price rises, leading to public discontent following the 2009 "Green Movement", shaking the Islamic Republic in the face of controversial elections.

Activists say the latest protests by the Iranian security forces are even more intense, an Internet blackout compared to about 10 years ago.

For the first time this month, Iran acknowledged that there were large-scale civilian casualties.

Moztaba Zolnour, head of Iran's national security and foreign affairs committee, said on June 1 that 230 people were killed - including six security guards.

But Amnesty International released a report detailing 304 confirmed Protector deaths in May, saying it was not a final number by any means.

"We believe the death toll is much higher than what they announced," Raha Bahreni, an Iranian researcher with Amnesty International, told AFP.

"We have been able to document the cases of men, women and children in our report. Officials are still suppressing the truth," he said.

She said Iranian authorities failed to provide details of the victims' names, age or gender.

Bahrain said, "The latest official statement reflects the denial of the truth and the pursuit of the authorities' strategy to prevent accountability and justice."

- 'Investigate every case' -

The investigation into Iran's handling of the protests comes at a difficult time for its leadership.

Its economy is already in turmoil through sanctions, the firing of Ukrainian aircraft in January has led to further protests, the coronavirus causing massive human damage and further economic hardship.

Rights groups outside of Iran are complaining that not a single person of any rank has ever been investigated.

According to Amnesty, all were killed by Iranian security forces, but four were shot dead.

Shots to the head or neck for death are usually listed.

Shadi Sadr, a lawyer who heads the Iran Justice (FJI) Accountability Group, told AFP, "By declaring that number, they do not condone their wrongs and their right to life."

“They should open an investigation for each individual case,” she said.

In a statement issued by the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the victims were categorized into three categories - the perceived, the armed with the performer and the non-existent.

Sadr said the command considered all the killings valid and did not recommend an investigation.

"The only case left to the authorities is to determine which victims fall into the category of persons listed in Iranian law," the JFI report said.

The killed bystanders are considered martyrs and their families receive regular payments from the state.

Families who die in protest without weapons receive blood money - known as dia - a common practice in Iran.

Sadr "silenced many families using various methods of government", including blackmailing people to sign in silence before allowing their loved one to see the dead body.

- 'Impotence' -

UNHRC human rights experts said in December that unconfirmed reports could kill more than 400 people and pointed to "violations of international standards on the force."

Hadi Ghimi, chief executive of Iran's New York-based Center for Human Rights, has reported that AFP has been the most severe in Iran since the end of the war in Iraq in the late '80s.

"The 2009 protests spanned 10 months, and there were still direct shootings, but hundreds of protesters at this level were not killed in just a few days," he said.

He said it was not clear who gave orders for the shootings.

Amnesty International has called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the November 2019 killings.

"Inequality is so widespread in Iran that domestic criminal investigation is unlikely to happen in the near future," Bahrain said.

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