A reformist Iranian lawmaker claims that some 3700 protesters were arrested during the wide-spread anti-government demonstrations that began in late December – the largest such demonstrations in Iran since the Green Movement protests of 2009. Now human rights monitors are concerned that those recently arrested are in danger of suffering the same ill-treatment endured by many of the 2009 demonstrators after their mass arrest, including torture, rape, and murder.
Those concerns have increased at the news that one detainee, Sina Ghanbari, died while in custody at Evin prison. Authorities claim the 22 year old committed suicide on January 6. Distinguished Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh reportedly told the Guardian newspaper by phone from Tehran that at least two other protesters who had not yet been identified also died while in detention.
Some 22 people were killed during the country-wide demonstrations which started on December 28, and spread from economic to political protests. While some protesters who were detained have been released, hundreds reportedly remain behind bars. Noting the history of violence in Iran’s prisons, Amnesty International has demanded that the Iranian government protect those who remain from torture and other abuse.
When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council during the protests, she made clear that the United States supports the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people who demand change from a corrupt and oppressive government: “I call on all my colleagues to join me in amplifying the message of the Iranian people,” said Ambassador Haley. “Because in the end the Iranian people will determine their own destiny. And let there be no doubt whatsoever: the United States stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation.”
Ambassador Haley told the Iranian regime that it “is now on notice. The world will be watching what you do.”
In the wake of the arrests of thousands of brave Iranians who raised their voices in support of freedom and human rights, the world is still watching to see if the regime continues its horrific pattern ofabuse in the prisons it has filled.