Posted by: bahareiran | April 20, 2011

Iran Arab minority protest deaths must be investigated

 

The Iranian authorities must investigate clashes between security forces and protesters from the Ahwazi Arab minority that reportedly left at least three people dead and dozens injured in the south-western province of Khuzestan, Amnesty International said today.

Security forces reportedly fired live ammunition and used tear gas against protesters.

“This is yet another chilling attack on the right to protest. While denouncing governments in the region for repressing demonstrations, the Iranian authorities are acting in the same repressive manner, “said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme deputy director.

Amnesty International is calling for an independent and impartial investigation into the killings.

The crackdown came around a “Day of Rage” protest held on 15 April to mark the anniversary of demonstrations that took place in the regional capital Ahvaz in 2005, when local Ahwazi Arabs held rallies in protest at a letter they believed was written by an official which outlined a policy of “Persianization” of the area.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that well over 200 people were arrested in the run-up to the demonstration. Anyone detained solely for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly, or for peacefully expressing their views, must be released immediately and unconditionally,’ said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Around 30 of the arrested people are said to be women, five of whom are reportedly pregnant.

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