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.


Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

Updated 54 min 56 sec ago
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Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

  • Malaysia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian plight
  • The government said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in July that serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel.
Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, is among the predominantly Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The government has said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in eastern Sarawak state in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the Cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue,” Saifuddin said after meeting a coalition of Muslim groups. The groups submitted a memorandum urging the government to stick to the ban and not to repeat mistakes in the past of allowing Israel delegates into the country.
Saifuddin said the Palestinian cause was not just a religious issue but also a human right violation.
“It’s about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,” he said.
Israel’s Paralympic Committee did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment on Malaysia’s move.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the International Paralympic Committee can withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the July 29-Aug 4 championship involving athletes from some 70 countries if they wish to do so. The committee has said it was disappointed with Mahathir’s comments but hopes to find a solution to the issue.
This isn’t the first time Malaysia has stopped Israeli athletes from competing in a sports event. In 2015, two Israeli windsurfers had to withdraw from a competition on the resort island of Langkawi after they were refused visas to enter. The following year, Malaysia decided not to host a 2017 conference of the world football governing body FIFA because an Israeli delegation was scheduled to participate.
But earlier this year, the government allowed a high-level Israeli delegation to attend a UN conference in Kuala Lumpur, sparking widespread anger among Muslim groups.
Some 60 percent of Malaysia’s 32 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. Many have taken to the streets in the past to support the Palestinian cause.