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Panel Calls for Justice for Victims of 2019 Iranian Protest Crackdown


FILE - Anti-government protesters take to the streets in Iran, November 2019.

The Iran Atrocities Tribunal adjourned Sunday in London after hearing five days of testimony from more than 30 witnesses who alleged that Iranian authorities killed, tortured and abused thousands of their countrymen three years ago during protests against Tehran’s sudden increase in the price of gasoline.

The six-lawyer panel, formed by civil society groups but with no official international legal standing, said it had examined more than 100 written statements, videos and pictures of the mostly peaceful protests that turned violent. More submissions are yet to be reviewed, with the panel saying other witnesses have expressed interest in testifying before a final report is issued in early 2022.

Eyewitnesses to the violence blamed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and special anti-riot forces for the attacks.

Hamid Sabi, one of the lawyers presenting the case against the Iranian authorities, said, “We hope with what we have presented so far, that world governments will consider Magnitsky sanctions against the 133 people we have alleged to be perpetrators of these heinous crimes.”

His reference to Magnitsky sanctions refers to a 2016 U.S. law that allows Washington to blacklist foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses throughout the world.

Regina Paulose, a co-counsel to the tribunal, said the victims and survivors of the attacks “must have access to justice” under United Nations conventions.

Shadi Sadr, executive director of Justice for Iran and a co-organizer of the tribunal, said after the testimony ended, “By holding the truth to the utmost importance, the honorable panel members have devised a safe space for relatives of the victims and protesters who are accused as ‘rioters’ and ‘terrorists’ by their own state, to stand tall and with pride to voice the truth to the world.”

In a concluding statement, the tribunal said, “The killing of protesters was deliberately concealed from the world through an ‘information blackout.’”

The tribunal statement contended that on November 16, 2019, the Iranian government “implemented a near-total shutdown of the internet, which lasted for a few weeks in some parts of the country.”

It alleged that the “resulting ‘information blackout’ may have allowed the police, security, and military forces to commit murder while the international community’s access to Iran was almost completely cut off.”

The hearings were staged by three non-governmental organizations, including Justice for Iran, Iran Human Rights and Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty).

Iran has not commented publicly on the hearings.

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