At least five protesters died in Iran police custody, says Amnesty International

At least five protesters died in Iran police custody, says Amnesty International
2 min read
10 January, 2018
At least five Iranians arrested during recent anti-government demonstrations have died in police custody, Amnesty International has said.
Tehran's Evin prison has a feared reputation in Iran [AFP]
At least five protesters arrested during recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran have died in police custody, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

A brutal crackdown by security forces led to at least 22 protesters but more deaths might have taken place in prison cells, where reports of torture are frequent, the human rights group claimed.

Amnesty International said one protester, Sina Ghanbari, aged 23, died in mysterious circumstances at the "quarantine" section at Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Authorities said Ghanbari committed suicide. Activists dispute this claim.

Amnesty International has called on Tehran to investigate his death and others following the crackdown on anti-government rallies in Iran.

"The shroud of secrecy and lack of transparency over what happened to these detainees is alarming. Instead of rushing to the judgment that they committed suicide, the authorities must immediately launch an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation, including independent autopsies," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"We have long documented the nightmarish conditions in detention facilities in Iran, including the use of torture. Those suspected of having any responsibility for these deaths should be suspended from their positions and prosecuted in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty."

At least four other people have reportedly died in custody including two more at Evin prison's "quarantine" section, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh reported.

Vahid Heydari and Mohsen Adeli both died in detention in different prisons, Amnesty International reported, after they were picked up by security forces during demonstrations which began on 28 December but have since died down.

At least 22 people died as the government forces tried to end the anti-government demonstrations, but hundreds of family members have not heard from their loves ones since they were detained. Some have been threatened by authorities, Amnesty International said, when they tried to investigate their whereabouts.

"The authorities must not only inform family members of detainees' whereabouts, but also allow families to visit detainees and ensure they have legal representation. Nobody should face reprisals for inquiring about the whereabouts of a loved one or seeking truth about their fate," said Magdalena Mughrabi. 

Protests first erupted on 28 December following anger over inflation and economic issues.

The demonstrations soon spread across the country with many directed against the regime as a whole, in the biggest unrest in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement.