An Iranian general Tuesday acknowledged that more than 300 people have been killed in the nationwide Mahsa Amini protests, citing a figure significantly lower than the 448 deaths reported by Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO). General Amir Ali Hajizadeh’s comments mark the first time Iranian authorities have acknowledged the death toll since protests began in September.
Hajizadeh, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Air Force, said in a video posted by Mehr News Agency that more than 300 people have been killed in Mahsa Amini protests, including “martyrs,” which may be a reference to Iranian forces killed. Hjizadeh also suggested that some of the 300 killed were not involved in the protests, but rather ordinary Iranians, parroting the government’s claim that the protests are fueled by critics from the West. Hijzadeh did not provide a reason or source for the figure.
Hajizadeh’s statement comes only days after the UN Human Rights Council voted to launch an independent fact-finding mission into alleged human rights violations committed by Iranian authorities against Mahsa Amini protestors.
The protests began in September, when Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iranian authorities after being arrested for wearing an “improper” hijab. Since the protests began, at least 448 people have been killed, including 60 children, across 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces. Thousands more protesters have been arrested. Protesters now face potential death penalties for their participation. The UN has condemned Iranian authorities’ actions.