On June 3rd, referring to the killing of George Floyd the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei said: “They’re mouthing off hypocritically. They kill people and, with their flagrant crimes, show their true faces and they don’t even apologise. At the same time, they are mouthing off hypocritically and claiming (to support) human rights. Apparently, the black man who was killed there was neither human nor had any rights.”

His statement sparked a wave of outrage amongst Iranian social media users, who have not forgotten the recent atrocities during the November 2019 protests, where hundreds of civilians were shot dead by the police and security forces across Iran. Six months on from the lethal crackdown, there is still no accountability and the perpetrators still enjoy absolute impunity.

Thousands of Twitter and Instagram accounts used Khameni’s own words ‘They killed people and yet, they are mouthing off hypocritically’ (in Persian: #مردم_را_می_کشند_زبانشان_هم_دراز_است’) as a hashtag that rapidly went viral. They have addressed not only the killing of protesters last November, but also numerous other cases of state sanctioned killings, including the 1988 massacre of political prisonersthe serial killings of dissidents and thinkers in the 1990s, and the shooting down of the Ukrainian plane in January 2020.

Justice for Iran’s report ‘Mockery of Justice’ demonstrates evidence that, under the Supreme Leader’s approved policy, the families of the victims’ of the 2019 November protests have been silenced or pressurised to settle for proposals of money and ‘martyrdom’, instead of receiving truth and justice. Launched in mid-May, the report has been widely covered by the Persian mainstream media, such as BBC PersianManoto and Iran International, with millions of viewers inside the country. Several media outlets interviewed the victims’ relatives and resonated with their accounts of having been threatened and bribed by the authorities to not file any complaints, or to withdraw their existing complaints. The authorities’ campaign of coercion and deception against the victims’ families served the purpose of aiding the state in distorting the truth and granting immunity to the perpetrators.  The report confirms that not a single criminal investigation into the November killings of protesters has been initiated to date.

In a separate attempt to manipulate the facts, on May 30th, Iran’s Minister of Interior suggested that the overall death toll in the November protests was 225 people, immediately claiming that 40-45 of the dead were those killed by non-organisational weapons, implying that they were shot by someone among the protestors rather than police or security forces. He also justified the rest of the killings by alleging that they were attacking police stations and other vital government buildings.

As legally analysed in detail in Justice for Iran’s report, ‘Shoot to Kill’, the lethal use of force against protesters and other civilians during the November protests was unlawful and a flagrant violation of international law, as the protesters posed no imminent threat to the lives of others.
The report has also identified the same Minister of Interior Rahmani Fazli, as one of the main authorities responsible for issuing the order of ‘Shoot to Kill’ in the early hours after the nationwide protests erupted on November the 15th, in response to a sudden petrol price hike and amid a near-total internet blackout. The report also presented evidence against 34 other individuals for their involvement in using live ammunition in the lethal crackdown of the protests. Rahmani Fazli and two other individuals identified in the report, were designated by the US Treasury on May the 20th.

As Amnesty International’s latest report confirms, the real number of those killed in less than five days in November is much higher than the official number suggested by the Interior Minister; at least 23 of which, were children.
The social media users who are using the hashtag, ‘They killed people and yet, they are mouthing off hypocritically’ have echoed that the Iranian authorities, including the Supreme Leader, have no credibility to pay sympathy to the victims of police abuses in the US, as they are yet to offer an apology and be held to account for their own grave violations of human rights in Iran.

Read our reports on the November 2019 protests:
Mockery of Justice: State’s Policies and Laws Regarding the Victims of Iran’s 2019 November Protests
Shoot to Kill; Preliminary Findings of Justice for Iran’s Investigation into the November 2019 Protests

Watch our video investigation series, Mapping the November Bloodshed, here.