Iran Confirms Killing Protesters, Disputes Claims of High Death Toll

State TV presents slain as 'rioters'

Iran’s spate of large but mainly peaceful protests in November related to gas prices may have quieted down, but there has still been a lot of focus and debate about violent crackdowns, and the number of people killed.

Amnesty International has reported that 208 were killed in demonstrations, saying the toll might ultimately be higher. The Iranian judiciary declared these numbers “sheer lies,” saying the real toll is “far less.”

Iranian officials are admitting that they’ve killed some of the protesters, however, and on state TV were presenting them as “rioters” who were connected with unnamed hostile groups threatening sensitive sites.

They offered no real evidence to back a lot of this up, claiming some of the protesters had “semi-heavy weapons,” but offered the typical excuse offered by governments in the region when protesters turn up dead.

Still, precise figures are going to be difficult to come up with, and even more so with the attempts to inflate the number killed far beyond what anyone looking into it was actually alleging. President Trump, during his NATO talks, claimed Iran is “killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak,” ignoring both that the protest crackdowns happened over a week ago and that Amnesty’s serious work on documenting the numbers killed has floated around 100-200.

Iran may feel the difference between 208 and whatever lesser number they are offering is substantial, but there seems no reason to believe the thousands number Trump is offering, which is seemingly just a talking point to blow the situation out of proportion.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.