CODEPINK Statement on the Protests Occurring in Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Ariel Gold | CODEPINK co-director | ariel@codepink.org | 510 599 5330 

Medea Benjamin | CODEPINK co-director | medea.benjamin@gmail.com | 415 235 6517

WASHINGTON DC — Since Friday, November 16, 2019, people across Iran have been protesting a fifty percent hike in gasoline prices. Iranian authorities have responded to the protests with violence, deploying riot police and tear gas and limiting internet access to a near-total shutdown. 

CODEPINK condemns the tactics of violence and repression being used by the Iranian authorities against the protestors and supports the Iranian people’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. CODEPINK also condemns the U.S. role in fomenting protests by imposing brutal sanctions on Iran to intentionally try to destroy the Iranian economy so that it is unable to serve the needs of its people.

“The US has imposed a matrix of sanctions on Iran that are so burdensome and complex, including sanctioning the National Bank of Iran, that Iranians are finding themselves unable to access imported, life-saving medicines and food at affordable prices,” said CODEPINK co-director Ariel Gold. “The Trump administration’s policies are making the Iranian people suffer, as prices of ordinary commodities are escalating and hardline factions in the government are being emboldened.”

CODEPINK calls on the U.S. to lift the coercive sanctions that harm ordinary Iranians and undermine efforts for reforms in accordance with principles of human rights. CODEPINK also calls on the Iranian government to end its use of violence against protesters and to reopen internet access. 

“Over the past year, CODEPINK has brought delegations of Americans to Iran to see the effects of US sanctions and express their desire for peace between our two countries,” said CODEPINK co-director Medea Benjamin. “The people we met within Iran spoke about the hardships being imposed on them by the U.S. sanctions and appealed for the world to know that they, like all people, deserve to live with dignity.”

The protests in Iran are occurring within the broader context of protests taking place right now throughout the Middle East, including in Lebanon and Iraq, in response to government corruption and mismanagement resulting in price hikes on fuel, food, and other necessary commodities.

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December 26, 2019 UpdateReuters claims that they received, from three Iranian officials, an updated death toll of at least 1,500 killed, including 400 women, during the less than two weeks of unrest but Iran denies this. According to Amnesty International, they have bee able to verify through credible reports that between November 15 and 18 at least 304 people were killed and thousands were injured. They state that the number could easily be much higher as Iranian authorities refused to give a figure for those killed. The dead include two children: 15-year-old Mohammad Dastankhah, who was shot in the heart in Shiraz, Fars province and 17-year-old Alireza Nouri, who was killed in Shahriar, Tehran province.

The crackdown also included thousands of arrests — 7,000 according to the spokesperson for Iran’s parliamentary committee, Hossein Naghavi — including children as young as 15 years old, journalists, students, minority and labor rights activists, and people from minority populations inside Iran — many of them are at risk of or are being subjected to torture. According to Amnesty International, there are eyewitness reports of Iranian security forces raiding hospitals and medical centers and arresting injured protesters.

Forty days after the first protesters were killed — the end of the traditional mourning period — Iranian security forces amassed to repress attempts to gather at the graves for mourning and protest. The parents of 27-year-old engineer Pouya Bakhtiari, who was killed and became one of the main faces of the uprising, were detained after refusing the government's request that they cancel their invitation for the public to attend their son’s memorial service.

CODEPINK condemns Iran's massacre of and arrests of protestors and calls on the government to immediately release all of the protesters being held in jails and prisons and drop all charges against the 7,000 people who participated in the November protests.

CODEPINK recognizes the role that the U.S. played in Iran being able to blackout the internet for two weeks during the protests, denying the Iranian people their rights to freedom of expression. Before Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s Internet was hosted by a combination of domestic and international providers. After the U.S. reimposed sanctions, only domestic providers were available, making it affordable for the Iranian government to shut off the Internet inside the country for such an extended period of time. CODEPINK calls on Congress to do everything within its power to lift the U.S. sanctions on Iran that apply to Internet technology and calls on Internet technology companies — Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft — to reactivate domain fronting so that Iranians can resume using international Internet providers.  

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