Wednesday, 11 December, 2019

Rouhani says some protesters should be freed, open to talks with US

Illustrative People walk past buildings that were burned during recent protests in Shahriar Iran some 40 kilometers southwest of the capital Tehran Wednesday Nov. 20 2019 Iran admits shooting and killing 'rioters' in multiple cities
Deanna Wagner | 04 December, 2019, 13:12

Iranian security forces shot and killed "rioters" in multiple cities amid the recent gas price protests, according to a report by the state-run television on Tuesday.

Protests erupted in several of Iran's provinces in November, following the government's decision to increase the price of gasoline, with some of the rallies turning violent. "This alarming death toll is further evidence that Iran's security forces went on a horrific killing spree that left at least 208 people dead in less than a week", reads a statement from Amnesty International research and advocacy director for the Middle East Philip Luther released with the organization's findings.

Iran has proposed President Hassan Rouhani visit Japan, a US ally which also has close relations with Tehran, to try to resolve Iran's nuclear impasse with Washington, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday. The surrounding oil-rich province's Arab population long has complained of discrimination by Iran's central government and insurgent groups have attacked area oil pipelines in the past there. After a monthly 60-litre qota, it costs 55p a litre.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran puts the death toll at 750 and said more than 12,000 people had been arrested in the crackdown.

State TV acknowledged confronting "rioters" in Tehran.

Iran's fuel prices are among the cheapest in the world, but the price rise comes amid an ailing economy and an increasing cost of living, partly as a result of U.S. sanctions imposed on the country after Donald Trump pulled out of a global agreement to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic relief.

It added that it had compiled the death toll by interviewing and crosschecking a range of sources inside and outside Iran including victims' relatives, journalists and human rights activists involved in gathering the information. Mills said there was a "general environment of fear inside of Iran at the moment".

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She said: "The authorities have been threatening families, some have been forced to sign undertakings that they won't speak to the media". "Families have been forced to bury their loved ones at night under heavy security presence". That's almost 24 cents a liter or 90 cents a gallon.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that the number could be higher.

Cheap gasoline is widely expected by consumers in Iran, home to the world's fourth-largest crude oil reserves. An average gallon of regular gas in the USA costs $2.58 by comparison, according to AAA.

Iran's per capita gross domestic product, often used as a rough sense of a nation's standard of living, is just over $6,000, compared with over $62,000 in the US, according to the World Bank. That disparity, especially given Iran's oil wealth, fueled the anger felt by demonstrators.

A lawmaker said last week that about 7,000 protesters had been arrested. Daily staples also have risen in price.

Iran has faced growing worldwide criticism and pressure over the security force crackdown on demonstrations that spread across at least 100 cities and towns throughout the Islamic Republic in mid-November.