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Watchdog describes Iran’s ‘shocking’ rights violations after November protests

2019_Iranian_fuel_protests (Fars News/WikiCommons)
September 05, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Amnesty International has accused Iran of committing “a catalogue of shocking human rights violations” against those detained in connection with the November 2019 antiestablishment protests, including children as young as 10.

The violent demonstrations were sparked by a sudden hike in the price of gasoline and spread to some 100 Iranian towns and cities.

The authorities responded with force, killing at least 304 protesters, according to Amnesty International, and arresting several thousand while also shutting down the Internet for several days to disrupt the free flow of information.

In a report released on September 2, the London-based human rights group says Iran’s police, intelligence, security forces, and prison officials have resorted with the complicity of judges and prosecutors to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill-treatment against protesters, bystanders, and others who were arrested during and after the 2019 protests.

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Amnesty says the report is based on interviews with 60 victims of the state crackdown or their relatives or close acquaintances, two protesters who were hiding, and 14 informed individuals. The groups says it has also received information from several hundred others inside the country while also analyzing video footage and court documents.

“In the days following the mass protests, videos showing Iran’s security forces deliberately killing and injuring unarmed protesters and bystanders sent shockwaves around the world,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Much less visible has been the catalogue of cruelty meted out to detainees and their families by Iranian officials away from the public eye,” Eltahawy added.

Amnesty International says it has recorded the names and details of more than 500 protesters and others, including journalists and human rights defenders, who have been subjected to “unfair criminal proceedings” in connection with the protests.

The rights group says prison terms for those convicted have ranged from one month to 10 years for vague charges, including “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security,” “spreading propaganda against the system,” and “insulting” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Three protesters were sentenced to death. Their cases are reportedly being reviewed following a public outcry.

Amnesty International says many of those arrested were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.

Victims were punched, kicked, flogged, suspended or forced into holding stressful positions for prolonged periods, placed in prolonged solitary confinement, and denied medical care for injuries sustained during the protests, the watchdog said.

The report quoted one victim as describing being waterboarded.

“[My interrogators] would drench a towel in water and place it over my face. Then they would pour water slowly over the towel, which made me feel like I was suffocating,” the victim from the northeastern Khorasan Razavi Province said.

A victim from Tehran described being suspended from his hands and feet from a pole in a painful method.

“The pain was excruciating. There was so much pressure and pain in my body that I would urinate on myself,” the man in the Iranian capital told Amnesty International.