Amnesty finds surge in repression of dissent in Iran

Lawyers, journalists, political activists, religious and ethnic minorities and filmmakers targeted in the new wave of arrests

In the run-up to Iran’s parliamentary elections on Friday, the first public vote since the 2008 unrest in the country, the authorities have once again stepped up crackdown on journalists and activists.

Amnesty International has published a thorough report on the surge in repression of dissents in Iran, which it said has “dramatically escalated” ahead of the parliamentary vote, especially in regards to freedom of expression.

The 71-page report, which you can read here, has provided detailed information on the situation of the Iranian opposition since February 2011 when opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were placed under house arrest after calling for fresh street protests in solidarity with pro-democracy movements in the Middle East.

“The report finds that in recent months a wave of arrests has targeted a range of groups, including lawyers, students, journalists, political activists and their relatives, religious and ethnic minorities, filmmakers, and people with international connections, particularly to media,” said Amnesty in a statement.

The report has also highlighted a recent campaign of crackdown and smears by the Iranian regime against BBC’s Persian TV service which the Guardian reported earlier this month. Other issues covered by Amnesty’s report include: the sharp rise in Iran’s use of the capital punishment (which Amnesty said is used to strike fear in society), harassment, arrest and imprisonment of human rights defenders as well as the regime’s new draconian rules on cybercafes and its online censorship campaign (which we had a report on it in January).

In today’s Iran, according to Amnesty’s Ann Harrison, “you put yourself at risk if you do anything that might fall outside the increasingly narrow confines of what the authorities deem socially or politically acceptable… Anything from setting up a social group on the internet, forming or joining an NGO, or expressing your opposition to the status quo can land you in prison.”

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from Saeed Kamali Dehghan


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