Amnesty International Calls on Iran Regime to Release All Protesters
By Staff Writer
The Iranian regime’s response to the largely peaceful protests that spread across Iran over the past week was mass arrests.
In a letter dated August 8th, 2018, Amnesty International calls upon the Iranian authorities to release any individual held solely for peacefully taking part in the protests. They also called for authorities to conduct a prompt, impartial, and independent investigation into the killing of a protester in Karaj, north-west of the capital, Tehran, on August 3rd, 2018.
Amnesty also urged the authorities to protect all detainees from torture and any other ill treatment, as well as to reveal the fate and whereabouts of dozens of detainees who have not been heard from since their arrests.
Human Rights Defender N. Afshari, is among those detained. He was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials on August 1st, 2018 in the city of Karaj, north-west of Tehran. His whereabouts are unknown. He believed to be held in a secret detention facility.
High inflation and the steep devaluation of the rial have added to the economic crisis in Iran, sparking protests that began on July 31st. However, dozens of videos that have been shared on social media also show protesters chanting slogans opposing the political establishment — specifically, Iran’s Supreme Leader.
By and large, the demonstrations appear to have been peaceful, but some protesters have engaged in acts of violence, like stone-throwing, arson, and other damage to vehicles and buildings.
State-run Tasnim News Agency reported on August 3rd, 2018, that a group attacked a religious school in the district of Eshtehard in Alborz province. They threw stones and bricks through windows.
On social media, reports and videos show the use of unnecessary and excessive force by security forces to disperse demonstrations. According to reports from journalists and human rights activists inside Iran, as well as independent news groups outside the country, security forces have detained scores of people in jails and secret detention facilities. Human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani reported that he believes between 50 and 60 protesters who were arrested in Tehran had been taken to Evin prison since the start of the protests.
Fifty women protesters have been taken to Shahr-e Rey prison in Varamin, outside Tehran, according to reports on social media. Shahr-e Rey prison (also known as Gharchak) holds several hundred women convicted of violent offenses in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, allegedly without access to safe drinking water, decent food, medicine, or fresh air.
Male protesters have reportedly been taken to Fashafouyeh prison in the south of Tehran following their arrests.
Amnesty International is concerned by reports that the detainees who have been taken to Evin prison, Shahr-e Rey prison, and Fashafouyeh prison have been given little or no access to their families or lawyers. Amnesty International fears for the wellbeing of Nader Afshari and other detainees.
During the violently dispersed protests, dozens of people are said to have been injured. Videos of the protests shared on social media show crowds running from what sounds like gunfire. On one video, the voice of a bystander recording a protest in the city of Shiraz can be heard saying, “Plain-clothed security forces are beating the people.”
Reza Outadi, a 26-year-old protester, was killed in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, on August 3rd. The Prosecutor General of Karaj announced that he had been “killed by gunfire that came from protesters amidst the rioting that took place” in Karaj. He said that Reza Outadi was “shot in the back and killed”. He also claimed that a number of security forces personnel in Alborz province had been injured after being shot, stabbed, and hit with stones.
Fars News reported on August 7th, that the Prosecutor General of Karaj announced that a special unit has been set up to investigate Reza Outadi’s death.
Initially, authorities told the family that they considered Outadi to be a “rioter” (shooreshi) and consequently would not be releasing his body to them. They have since released his body, and his family were able to hold his funeral under heavy security presence, on August 6th.
Amnesty International is concerned that the special unit that has been established to investigate the death of Reza Outadi does not meet the requirements of impartiality and independence under international law and standards. Amnesty urges the Iranian authorities to ensure that the investigation into the death of Reza Outadi is impartial and independent, and that anyone reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility be brought to justice in fair trials, and without recourse to the death penalty.