LONDON: Amnesty International has called on Tehran to release peaceful protesters following a wave of arrests over demonstrations against Iran’s dire economic conditions and its foreign military interventions.
The world’s leading human-rights organization also urged the authorities to conduct a “prompt, impartial and independent” investigation into the killing of a protester in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, on Aug. 3.
“Amnesty International is also urging the authorities to protect all detainees from torture and other ill-treatment and to reveal the fate and whereabouts of dozens of detainees whose families have not heard from them since their arrests,” the rights group said in a statement.
“Among those detained and at risk of torture and other ill-treatment is human rights defender Nader Afshari, who was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials on 1 August 2018 in the city of Karaj, north-west of Tehran, and whose whereabouts are unknown as he is being held in a secret detention facility.”
Protests over the tough economic situation in Iran began last December, spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in at least 25 deaths.
They have intensified in the past week, with a fresh wave of demonstrations in cities including Esfahan, Karaj, Rasht and Tehran, resulting in what Amnesty described as a “wave of mass arrests.”
“Since 31 July 2018, thousands of people have taken to the streets to voice their grievances over increasing economic hardship in Iran caused in part by high inflation and the steep devaluation of the rial currency,” Amnesty said.
“Most of the demonstrations appear to have been peaceful, but in some instances protesters have engaged in acts of violence, including stone-throwing, arson and other damage to vehicles and buildings.”
“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 notorious for torture and other ill-treatment over the past week, denying many of them access to their families and lawyers.”