Political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of the world’s prominent human rights lawyers, has called for an inquiry into the killing of hundreds of protesters by Iran’s security forces last month.
In a letter published on Monday, Sotoudeh asked for the “independent investigation with the participation of lawyers trusted by the people, and civil activists, as well as supervision by UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur”.
The lawyer urged the Rouhani Government to reveal the number of those killed, injured, and arrested during the demonstrations, sparked on November 15 by the Government’s sudden announcement of a rise in petrol prices between 50% and 200%.
Sotoudeh cited detentions in dangerous prison conditions, amid reports that authorities arrested more than 7,000 people and continue to seize students and activists. She said officials should release the bodies of victims to families so they can be properly mourned.
Amnesty International has reported the killing of at least 208 protesters over four days, and says the actual toll may be far higher. The opposition website Kalameh says at least 366 people perished.
The Iranian regime has not issued an official death toll, instead highlighting individual funerals of a Revolutionary Guards soldier and civilian whom it says were killed by demonstrators.
Sotoudeh, the recipient of international awards such as the Sakharov Prize for her legal work, was detained in September 2010 over her defense of arrested activists. She was sentenced in January 2011 to 11 years in prison.
She was released just after the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, but re-arrested in June 2018 for representing women protesting compulsory hijab. She was sentenced to prison in March 2019 for at least seven years.
Amnesty’s report notes that many protesters were killed when they were shot at close range, some in the back as they were fleeing. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, under strict house arrest since February 2011, each said last week that there should be investigations and prosecutions over the killings.