The UN recorded at least 300 deaths and 14,000 arrests in Iran since the start of the protests over the death of Mahsa Amini

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The High Commissioner for Human Rights said that “the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must end”. According to United Nations sources, there are 40 minors among the fatalities

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The UN has recorded at least 300 deaths and 14,000 arrests in Iran since the start of the protests for the death of Mahsa Amini

Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Reuters)

UN human rights chief Volker Turk demanded an end to the “unnecessary” use of force against protesters in Iran on Thursday, at an urgent meeting of the Human Rights Council.

The highest human rights body The UN body was holding a specially convened session to discuss whether to launch a high-level international inquiry into the deadly crackdown on mass protests rocking Iran.

Turk, making his first appearance before the Council since taking office, said that Iran is mired in “a full-blown human rights crisis.”

“The unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must end,” he said. “The old ways and the fortress mentality of those in power just don't work. In fact, they only aggravate the situation.”

The UN has recorded at least 300 deaths and 14,000 arrests in Iran since the start of the protests for the death of Mahsa Amini

Protest in Tehran over the death of Mahsa Amini (Wana/Reuters/file)

Turk said that people across Iranian society were clamoring for a change, showing incredible value. “ I urge the government and rulers to listen ,” he said.

“The security forces… they have used live ammunition, pellets and other small metal pellets, tear gas and batons.

“According to reliable sources, a conservative estimate of the number of fatalities is up to now to more than 300, including at least 40 children. This is unacceptable.

It's a staggering number.”

He said that according to official sources, at least 21 people detained in the context of the protests currently face the death penalty, of whom at least six have been sentenced to death on charges of enmity with God and corruption on Earth.

Turk said the statements had sought to delegitimize the protesters and label them as agents of enemies and foreign states. “That is a convenient narrative. As we have seen throughout history, it is the typical narrative of tyranny”.

The UN has recorded at least 300 deaths and 14,000 arrests in Iran since the start of the protests over the death of Mahsa Amini

Protest in Saqez, Mahsa Amini's hometown (via AFP)

Turk said persistent impunity for human rights violations remained a major problem in Iran, further fueling discontent and mistrust.

“Therefore, I call for independent, impartial and transparent investigative processes to be carried out into alleged human rights violations, in in line with international standards,” he said.

“I call on the authorities to immediately stop using violence and harassment against peaceful protesters,” Turk added.

< p class="paragraph">“And release all those detained for peaceful protest, as well as – crucially – impose a moratorium on the death penalty.”

Change is inevitable. The way forward is meaningful reforms.”

(With information from AFP)

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