Iran: Excessive use of force against protesters condemned

Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian security forces’ excessive use of force against scores of protesters during today’s student-led demonstrations.

In a number of instances, security forces - including the Basij militia - used batons and tear gas to disperse opposition supporters in the wake of threats by officials that all demonstrations would be considered illegal and met by force. By the end of the day, an unknown number of protestors had been arrested.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

“Since the disputed election a pattern has emerged of the authorities preventing peaceful demonstrations, and then hastily resorting to violence against people who nevertheless choose to exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

“All those arrested for simply attending today’s demonstrations should be immediately and unconditionally released. The Iranian authorities continue to treat peaceful dissenters as criminals in violation of Iran’s Constitution.”

Thousands of opposition supporters and students had gathered in Tehran and cities across the country earlier today to mark the anniversary of the killing of three students by security forces in 1953. Recently the date has become a focus for demonstrations by students on campuses calling for reform and greater respect for human rights.

One eyewitness told Amnesty that students from Shahid Beheshti University marched along the walls of Evin Prison in Tehran chanting “political prisoners should be free” and “students will die, we won’t accept oppression.” Another told Amnesty that central Esfahan, along with the university in the southern part of that city, was full of Basij militia and plain-clothed security officers to stamp down on any protests.

In the course of the day Amnesty has been receiving reports of confrontations between plain-clothed security officers believed to be Basij and students at sites throughout the country. Locations include Mazandaran and Sari universities, in the north of the country. Since the morning, security forces in Sari are said to have told students not to attend university.

According to reports, police used plastic bullets at Amir Kabir University in Tehran to stop students inside the campus from joining protestors outside.

In recent weeks students suspected of organising protests had received threats and scores were detained. The authorities also blocked the use of the internet and mobile phones, and in a further crackdown the authorities banned foreign media from covering the protests.

On Saturday the security forces arrested up to 29 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights taking part in a silent protest in Tehran. The group, Mourning Mothers, is made up of mothers whose Children's rights died in the post-election violence and other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who gather every week to call for an end to human rights violations since the elections.

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