US demands release of Iran political prisoners amid torture reports

Iranian students scuffle with police at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran. Students protested in a third day of demonstrations, videos on social media showed, but were outnumbered by counter-demonstrators. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2018
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US demands release of Iran political prisoners amid torture reports

WASHINGTON: The White House on Wednesday demanded that Iran release demonstrators rounded up in countrywide protests, raising pressure on Tehran as US President Donald Trump weighs the future of a key nuclear deal.
“The Trump Administration is deeply concerned by reports that the Iranian regime has imprisoned thousands of Iranian citizens in the past week for engaging in peaceful protests,” the White House said in a statement.
It added that reports of some demonstrators being “tortured or killed... while in detention are even more disturbing,” and slammed Tehran for what it called its “true brutal nature.”
“We will not remain silent as the Iranian dictatorship represses the basic rights of its citizens and will hold Iran’s leaders accountable for any violations,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“The United States calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran, including the victims of the most recent crackdown,” the statement read.
Violent unrest fueled by economic grievances erupted in dozens of Iranian cities between December 28 and January 1, leaving at least 21 people dead.
Various figures have come from official sources in Iran about the number of people arrested, with reformist lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeghi putting the total at 3,700.
Officials have said the majority have since been released, with only the main “instigators” facing trial.
An investigation has been opened into the death in custody of a young Iranian in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, the country’s judiciary said Tuesday, with Sadeghi linking the death to recent protests.
A reluctant Trump is expected on Friday to waive a series of sanctions against Iran, as part of a deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.


Indian court gives life sentence to guru, 14 followers

Updated 10 min 56 sec ago
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Indian court gives life sentence to guru, 14 followers

  • Sant Rampal was arrested in 2014 following a days-long standoff between law enforcers and his supporters
  • The court is expected to announce sentences in the death of a fifth woman on Wednesday
HISAR, India: A court in northern India sentenced a Hindu guru and 14 followers to life imprisonment on Tuesday in the deaths of four women and a child at his sprawling ashram.
The court ordered the penalty for Sant Rampal in Hisar city in Haryana state, where authorities deployed hundreds of riot police in anticipation of violence by the guru’s thousands of disciples in response to his sentencing.
Rampal, 67, was arrested in 2014 following a days-long standoff between law enforcers and his supporters in which six people died and hundreds were injured. At the time, Rampal was wanted for questioning in a 2006 murder case and had repeatedly ignored orders to appear in court.
Rampal and the 14 followers were accused by police of holding the four women and child captive inside the ashram, resulting in their deaths from a lack of food and medicine as the fierce standoff continued.
The court is expected to announce sentences in the death of a fifth woman on Wednesday.
Hindu gurus and holy men are immensely popular in India, with millions of followers. People often consult gurus before making important personal decisions. But the enormous power wielded by some has led to scandals in which they have been accused of exploiting devotees.