Esmail Kowsari, an ultraconservative lawmaker and former IRGC general, has asserted that no protesters were killed during the 2022 anti-regime demonstrations.
The statement comes in stark contrast to video and photo evidence, as well as reports from rights groups, which indicate that over 500 people, including 71 minors, were killed, thousands were injured, and 22,000 were arrested in the wake of the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody.
Kowsari also said that "Mahsa Amini was a code name used to prolong the protests for up to three months," though, like other regime officials, he did not provide any evidence to support this claim.
He added, "The events of the previous year were a deliberate plan to undermine the stability of the regime."
To date, the judicial and security authorities in the Islamic Republic have refrained from offering any explanation to the families of the slain protesters regarding their role in the shootings during the Women, Life, Freedom protests.
Kowsari alleged that, in order “to minimize casualties, forces were instructed not to open fire.” However, online videos during and after the protests clearly show that regime forces directly fired at demonstrators, resulting in fatalities and injuries.
The Islamic Republic has also imposed several death sentences on protesters arrested during the demonstrations, with seven of them executed. The Iranian judiciary claims that the verdicts were issued by a "court of first instance," but details regarding the location and fairness of the trials remain undisclosed. In most similar cases, the government does not permit defendants to choose their own legal representation, and due process of law is often absent.
Numerous countries and international organizations, including Canada, Germany, and the United Nations, have called on the Iranian government to refrain from imposing death sentences on protesters.