November 19, 2019 / 10:58 AM / 18 days ago

U.N. rights office urges Iran to rein in security forces at protests

FILE PHOTO: People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights office voiced deep concern on Tuesday at the Iranian security forces’ use of live ammunition against demonstrators and urged authorities to rein in its use of force to disperse protests sparked by a hike in fuel prices.

Rupert Colville, U.N. human rights spokesman, also called on authorities in Iran to restore the internet service cut off since Saturday and uphold the demonstrators’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

It had reports that the number killed was in the dozens, he told a Geneva briefing, adding that the extent of casualties was “clearly very serious”.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday blamed the turmoil on Iran’s foreign foes, including the United States, and denounced protesters as “thugs”.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams

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