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Truth-check: Are UK weapons getting used towards protestors in Iran?


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Iran is presently gripped by the biggest — and most vital — wave of unrest in its current historical past.

The protests, sparked by the dying of Mahsa Amini on 16 September, have swept throughout the nation, with safety forces cracking down laborious on demonstrators.

Whereas web entry is closely restricted in Iran, pictures and movies have nonetheless unfold on social media that declare to indicate UK weapons are getting used to suppress protestors.

However is that this the case? 

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A number of photos shared on Twitter purport to indicate that non-lethal, UK-made weapons, resembling stun grenades and flash bangs, have been deployed towards demonstrators. 

Considered one of these photos is a stun grenade canister, which clearly shows the phrase “England”.

Many have seized upon this as proof UK weapons are serving to Iran’s safety forces stamp out dissent, claiming Britain is one way or the other implicated within the violence and bloodshed in Iran.  

However it isn’t so easy. 

In accordance with Forensic Structure, a UK-based analysis group that investigates state violence, the textual content on the canister photographed above reads “Restricted Excessive Publish Wiltshire England”, which they are saying means it’s possible from a defunct UK arms firm, Outdated Schermuly Restricted. 

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The stun grenade, they instructed Euronews, is “an outdated mannequin, so [it was] most likely bought years again”.

In 1978, when the nation was nonetheless dominated by the pro-Western Shah, himself put in by the US and UK in a coup, Schermuly exported massive portions of non-lethal weaponry to Iran.  

That yr it was reported that Schermuly exported to Iran 13,000 anti-riot weapons, 26,000 CS gasoline cartridges and 20,000 mini smoke grenades, 20,000 anti-riot helmets, 20,000 gasoline masks and 20,000 riot shields, whereas 2,000 anti-riot weapons have been additionally 250,000 rubber bullets.

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On the time, the Shah was wrestling with mass civilian unrest in Iran, which culminated within the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

A lot of this tools can have been used or fallen into disrepair, although there’s the likelihood a few of it stays in use, because the above picture suggests.  

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But UK-made weapons will not be solely reportedly getting used on the streets. 

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian educational, spent two years in Iran’s infamous Evin Jail from 2018 to 2020 on expenses of espionage, although no proof of her alleged crimes was ever provided by the Iranian authorities. 

Throughout her time in jail, she instructed Euronews that handcuffs with the phrases “Made in England” stamped on them have been placed on her and different prisoners inside Evin. 

“The mannequin of {the handcuffs} appeared outdated” and “had a really quaint trying key”, she stated, suggesting that the “cuffs very nicely could possibly be from earlier than the revolution”. 

“They have been in good situation, nevertheless – polished silver, in good working order,” she added. 

Different former detainees in Evin have made comparable feedback about the usage of British handcuffs inside the ability. 

Evin Jail — the place a big, lethal fireplace broke out final weekend — is historically utilized by the Iranian authorities to deal with political prisoners, incomes it the nickname “Evin College” as a result of variety of college students and intellectuals imprisoned there. 

Lots of of these participating within the present protests have been detained in Evin. 

‘Iran made’

Not all photos which supposedly doc UK weapons being shared on-line are correct, nevertheless.

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The above picture of a flashbang cartridge has been shared a number of occasions on social media, with many claiming it originates from the UK. 

Publishing the image, the Iranian information web site Peykeiran wrote: “The individuals of Iran need the British Overseas Minister to clarify how this tear gasoline they’re firing in Tehran is made in England in 2020.” 

“You provide the tools of the child-killing regime and on the identical time you declare to help the combating individuals of Iran,” it added.

But there is no such thing as a concrete proof that this shell originated from the UK or was produced by a British firm. 

Whereas the cartridge has English written on it, “firms all around the globe write their labels in English,” says Forensic Structure. “We can’t see something that signifies that it was produced within the UK.” 

Producers of flash bangs and different non-lethal weapons usually use generic cartridges, that are deployed by authorities around the globe.  

Iran itself has had the power to fabricate many non-lethal weapons for “many, a few years”, stated the Omega Analysis Basis, one other unbiased analysis organisation primarily based within the UK. 

What this implies is that a lot of the weaponry used towards protestors is Iranian-made. 

Below tight worldwide sanctions, which forestall it from importing many items, Iran’s defence business is nicely developed, able to producing its personal tanks, plane and missiles.  

Between 2012 to 2021, the UK didn’t promote any army tools to Iran on account of sanctions, in accordance with a report by Armed Motion on Armed Violence shared with Euronews. 

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It has revered the varied arms embargoes on Iran, solely exporting dual-use gadgets to the nation, resembling plane elements. 

The UK has repeatedly condemned Iran for alleged human rights abuses towards its inhabitants, sanctioning the nation in October over Tehran’s lethal response to protestors. 

Not less than 233 protesters have been killed since demonstrations broke out, in accordance with US rights monitor HRANA. The group stated 32 of the lifeless are kids and youngsters.


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