Iran: Leaked documents reveal top-level orders to armed forces to ‘mercilessly confront’ protesters


Iran’s highest military body instructed the commanders of armed forces in all provinces to “severely confront” protesters who took to the streets following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police, Amnesty International said today after obtaining leaked official documents which revealed the authorities’ plan to systematically crush the protests at any cost. The crackdown has left at least 52 identified victims dead and hundreds injured to date.


In a detailed analysis issued today, Amnesty International divulges evidence of the Iranian authorities’ plot to brutally crush the demonstrations by deploying the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij paramilitary force, the Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran, riot police, and plainclothes security agents. The organization also shares evidence of the widespread use of lethal force and firearms by Iranian security forces who either intended to kill protesters or should have known with a reasonable degree of certainty that their use of firearms would result in deaths.


“The Iranian authorities knowingly decided to harm or kill people who took to the streets to express their anger at decades of repression and injustice. Amid an epidemic of systemic impunity that has long prevailed in Iran, dozens of men, women and children have been unlawfully killed in the latest round of bloodshed,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.


“Without determined collective action by the international community, which needs to go beyond mere statements of condemnation, countless more face being killed, maimed, tortured, sexually assaulted or thrown behind bars solely for their participation in protests. Leaked documents obtained by Amnesty International bring into sharp focus the need for an international independent investigative and accountability mechanism.”


Based on eyewitness accounts and audio-visual evidence reviewed by Amnesty International, none of the 52 identified victims posed any imminent threat of death or serious injury that could warrant the use of firearms against them.


State denial and coverup after a week of unlawful killings

Amnesty International has obtained a leaked copy of an official document which states that, on 21 September 2022, the General Headquarters of Armed Forces issued an order to commanders in all provinces instructing them to “severely confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries”. Later that evening, the use of lethal force across the country escalated with dozens of men, women and children killed that night alone.

The Iranian authorities knowingly decided to harm or kill people who took to the streets to express their anger at decades of repression and injustice. -- Agnes Callamard, Amnes