Irans Government Must End the Violence and Allow Peaceful Protest

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January 2, 2018—The Iranian government and state security forces should immediately end their violent crackdown on the nationwide protests that have so far led to the deaths of at least 21 people, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today.

The government must respect the Iranian people’s right to freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed under the Iranian Constitution and honor its responsibility to protect any and all of its citizens who are exercising those rights, CHRI said.

On January 2, 2018, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the current unrest in Iran on foreign “enemies.”

“The people of Iran who are peacefully protesting are not the ‘enemy.’ Khamenei’s dismissal of the unrest as the work of ‘foreign enemies’ is a boilerplate response that ignores legitimate domestic grievances,” said Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI’s executive director.

“The rapid spread of the unrest shows just how combustible conditions have become,” added Ghaemi, “and the potential for further bloodshed is extremely worrisome.”

Since the start of the protests in the city of Mashhad on December 28, 2017, the unrest has quickly spread throughout the country. The security forces have responded with increasingly deadly violence and on January 1, 2018, Iran’s deputy interior minister for security affairs, Hossein Zolfaghari, said 400 protestors had been arrested in Tehran alone. “Ninety percent of detainees are under the age of 25 and the majority do not have any previous judicial or arrest records,” he added.

CHRI is greatly concerned about the conditions of hundreds of protestors detained throughout the country and calls for their immediate release. Iranian security forces have a longstanding history of subjecting political detainees to torture and ill-treatment.

Economic grievances, political repression and corruption are propelling an entirely new generation of protestors onto the streets, but there have been rumblings of discontent and labor protests building for many months.

“Rouhani talks of the people’s right to protest, but for years has refused to permit students, women, workers and others to voice their demands,” said Ghaemi. “It is under Rouhani’s authority to issue these permits and it is clear that patience with empty rhetoric is running out.”

CHRI urges the international community to forcefully call upon the Iranian government to guarantee the security of the protestors and their right to peaceful protest.

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