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Amnesty International Calls for Investigation into Violence Against Demonstrators in Iran

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International calls
on Iranian authorities to start an immediate investigation into the security
forces’ violent handling of thousands of demonstrators who took to the
streets on Saturday to protest against the announcement of the victory
of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Friday’s presidential elections.

Amnesty International has received reports
from Iran that plain-clothes security forces unnecessarily used batons
to beat and disperse nonviolent individuals, injuring many people.  

“We deplore that the new presidential term
is heralded with widespread abuses. Amnesty International considers anyone
arrested simply for demanding transparency and for questioning the results
of the elections to be a prisoner of conscience, who should be immediately
and unconditionally released,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director
of the Middle East and North Africa program.
“The shocking scenes of violence meted out
by the security forces need to be urgently investigated and those responsible
for human rights violations must be brought to justice," he added.
"While we recognize the duty of security forces to ensure that public
order is upheld, the families of those detained, the Iranian public and
the international community should be told what exactly are the basis of
the charges and shown how exactly those arrested were connected to violence.”

“We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure
that all Iranians are granted the right to express themselves peacefully,
to associate and to assemble. No one should be arrested for questioning
the results of the elections and the Iranian authorities need to act in
a transparent manner to address the concerns raised by many Iranians that
results have been tampered with,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.  

Although universities have been closed, one
report received by Amnesty International indicated that some 100 riot police,
wearing helmets and shields, had chased some 300 - 400 students on grounds
belonging to the University of Tehran. Security personnel also used pepper
and tear gas to quell the unrest, notably at the student dormitory in Pol-e
Gisha, Tehran and another one in Shiraz.
In the course of the unrest on Saturday,
access to You Tube, Facebook and other social networking internet sites
was blocked, as was access to a range of online news services. SMS communications
were reported to be restricted. Many of these outlets carried reports which
raised concerns that the conduct of the election was flawed and results
had been rigged.  

“Instead of instituting an information clampdown,
including by blocking video sharing social networking sites like You Tube
and Facebook, along with a handful of online news sites, the authorities
should openly address the concerns and criticisms clearly expressed by
so many,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.


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