Iran regime killed 106 to quell protest; UN alarmed

Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 November 2019

Iran regime killed 106 to quell protest; UN alarmed

  • UN says alarmed by reports of 'significant' death toll in Iran protests
  • The assailants wielding knives and machetes ambushed the three — a Revolutionary Guard and two members of the Basij militia

JEDDAH: Amnesty International, citing “credible reports,” said on Tuesday it believes at least 106 people have been killed during protests in Iran over a rise in government-set gasoline prices.

Iran’s government, which has not made nationwide numbers available for the toll of the unrest that began on Sunday, did not immediately respond to the report.

Amnesty added that it “believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed.”

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said the international community must push for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in order to address the brutal suppression of civilians.

“The agenda for such a Security Council meeting would also represent an opportunity to showcase a policy, which should include, at a minimum, serious, multinational efforts to deny the Iranian regime the tools to halt the flow of information within the country, or out of it,” he told Arab News. “International powers must also issue statements of support for the Iranian people.”

Iran since has shut down the internet and deployed police and anti-riot forces to quell the unrest. Demonstrations are believed to still be going on in the country.

Hard-liners in Iran meanwhile threatened violent protesters with executions by hanging as sporadic demonstrations still gripped pockets of the country. 

It remains unclear how many people have been arrested, injured or killed in the protests that began Friday and quickly spread across at least 100 cities and towns in Iran.  

Maryam Kazemi, a 29-year-old accountant in the southern Tehran suburb of Khaniabad, said that the hefty hike in fuel prices was “putting pressure on ordinary people.”

“It was a bad decision at a bad time. The economic situation has long been difficult for people and Rouhani unexpectedly implemented the decision on fuel,” she said.

The UN rights office said it was alarmed by reports live ammunition was used against protesters and had caused a “significant number of deaths across the country.”

Its spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva that Iranian media and a number of other sources suggest “dozens of people may have been killed and many people injured during protests in at least eight different provinces, with over 1,000 protesters arrested.”

He said: ”We urge the Iranian authorities and security forces to avoid the use of force to disperse peaceful assemblies.”

Journalists saw two petrol stations in Tehran gutted by fire and damage to infrastructure, including a police station. They were prevented from filming as hundreds of riot police guarded squares with armored vehicles and water cannons.

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Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

Updated 4 min 11 sec ago

Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

  • Al-Imam is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel
  • The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison

NEW YORK: A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Libyan militant to more than 19 years in prison for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador.
A jury convicted Mustafa Al-Imam last year of conspiring to support the extremist militia that launched the fiery assaults on the US compounds but deadlocked on 15 other counts.
The attacks, aimed at killing American personnel, prompted a political fracas in which Republicans accused the Obama administration of a bungled response.
Al-Imam was sentenced to a total of 236 months behind bars. He is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, communications specialist Sean Smith and security officers Tyrone Snowden Woods and Glen Anthony Doherty.
The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Khattala was accused of driving to the diplomatic mission on Sept. 11, 2012, and breaching the main gate with militants who attacked with assault rifles, grenades and other weapons.
The initial attack killed Stevens and Smith and set the mission ablaze. Woods and Doherty were later killed at a CIA annex.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Washington asked US District Judge Christopher Cooper to send a message to others contemplating attacks on Americans overseas, saying Al-Imam deserved the maximum 35-year sentence.
“In the current geopolitical environment, terrorists must understand that there are harsh consequences for attacking diplomatic posts and harming US personnel — particularly a US ambassador,” Assistant US Attorney John Cummings wrote in a court filing.
Defense attorneys said Al-Imam made a “tremendous mistake” by damaging and looting US property after the attacks. But they insisted there was no evidence he intended to harm any Americans, noting jurors could not reach a verdict on the murder charges Al-Imam faced.
“Mustafa Al-Imam is a frail, uneducated and simple man,” they wrote in a court filing. “He is not a fighter, an ideologue or a terrorist. He is a former convenience store clerk whose main loves in life are soccer and family.”
Al-Imam was tried in a civilian court despite the Trump administration’s earlier contention that such suspects are better sent to Guantanamo Bay. His arrest, five years after the attack, was the first publicly known operation since President Donald Trump took office targeting those accused of involvement in Benghazi.
Prosecutors acknowledged there was no evidence that Al-Imam “directly caused” the killings at the US compounds. But they said he aligned himself with Khattala and acted as his “eyes and ears” at the height of the attacks.
During a four-week trial in Washington, prosecutors pointed to phone records that showed Al-Imam was in the vicinity of the mission and placed an 18-minute call to Khattala during a “pivotal moment” of the attacks.
Al-Imam also entered the US compound, prosecutors said, and took sensitive material that identified the location of the CIA annex about a mile away from the mission as the evacuation point for Department of State personnel.
In interviews with law enforcement following his 2017 capture in Misrata, Libya, he admitted stealing a phone and map from the US mission.