At least 448 killed during Iran protests

In a crackdown on protests that began in mid-September, Iranian security forces have killed at least 448 people, over half of whom were ethnic minorities, a rights group said on Tuesday.

According to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group, 60 of the 448 people confirmed to have been killed were children under the age of 18, including nine girls, and 29 women.

In the past week alone, 16 people have been killed by security forces, of whom 12 were killed in Kurdish-populated areas where protests have been particularly violent.

Additionally, the death toll has increased after the deaths of people killed in previous weeks were verified and included, according to the report. In the toll, only citizens who were killed in the crackdown are included, not security forces personnel.

On Tuesday morning, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps acknowledged that more than 300 people had been killed.

In a move angrily rejected by Iran, the UN Rights Council voted last week to create a high-level fact-finding team to investigate the crackdown.

“Islamic republic authorities know full well that if they cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission, an even wider scale of their crimes will be revealed,” IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam explained.

“That’s why their non-cooperation is predictable,” he stated.

Protests erupted after the death on September 16 of Kurdish Iranian Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the Tehran morality police and have become the greatest challenge to the regime since the 1979 revolution.

More than half of the deaths occurred in Sunni Baluch or Kurdish ethnically minorities, according to Amiry-Moghaddam.

IHR reports that the majority of deaths were in the southeastern region of Sistan-Baluchistan, where 128 people were killed following protests that had a separate spark but contributed to the nationwide anger.

According to the report, 53 and 51 people were killed respectively in Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan, which have a large Kurdish population.