Iran: Urgent appeal to Iranian authorities urges police restraint, no torture and free speech

Call on the Iranian authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with the protestors

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action appeal to its supporters, asking them to write to the Iranian authorities and call for restraint in the policing of any further election demonstrations, ensuring that firearms are used only as a last resort. Amnesty believes the security forces are likely to use excessive force if, as expected, there are further demonstrations.

Amnesty is further concerned that the dozens of people who have been arrested following post-election demonstrations may be at risk of torture. The organisation is urging that they be allowed access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical treatment, and that they are brought before a judge without delay. Anyone detained solely for the peaceful expression of their views on the election should be released immediately and unconditionally. As well as the capital Tehran, there are also reported arrests at demonstrations in provincial cities such as Zahedan, Tabriz, Mashhad, Babol, and Shiraz.

Amnesty International also believes the Iranian authorities are unlawfully restricting freedom of expression and information by blocking access to phone services, including SMS messages, foreign media and various Internet sites. The authorities appear to be attempting to limit reporting of the disturbances and to prevent Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporters from organising protests. Websites supportive of Mir Hossein Mousavi have been blocked and satellite broadcasts by foreign media such as the BBC have been jammed. Telephone lines to Tehran have been intermittently disrupted.

Letters from Amnesty supporters addressed to Sadegh Mahsouli at the Ministry of the interior and Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, will also urge them to order an independent investigation into the policing of the demonstrations, particularly into the deaths and injuries which have been reported.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Peaceful protests in Iran must not be met with violence and peaceful protesters should not be arrested. Amnesty members all over the world will be writing to the Iranian authorities urging them to show restraint when policing demonstrations.

“Anyone arrested should be protected from torture and allowed access to their families and a lawyer.

“The Iranian authorities must know that the world is watching them right now and that human rights abuses will be swiftly condemned.”

The Iranian authorities have an obligation to maintain law and order and to protect the safety of their citizens. However, international law states that any such restrictions must be proportionate to a legitimate purpose and must not be discriminatory, including on grounds of political opinion. Policing must be carried out in accordance with international standards regarding law enforcement, which allow law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary, and to use firearms only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. Law enforcement personnel must exercise restraint, minimise damage or injury and respect and preserve human life.

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