Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei seems to have given the go ahead for the police to launch violent crackdowns on people who continue to protest the country’s election results.
In a televised address to the nation during Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei called for an end to street protests against the outcome of the election. Instead of warning security forces, including the volunteer Basij militia, to act with restraint and in accordance with the law, he said that if people continued to take to the streets, the consequences would lie with them.
“We are extremely disturbed at statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei which seem to give the green light to security forces to violently handle protesters exercising their right to demonstrate and express their views,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“If large numbers of people take to the street in protests in the next couple of days, we fear that they will face arbitrary arrest and excessive use of force, as has happened in recent days, particularly as permission for a demonstration to be held in Tehran on Saturday 20 June has been denied.”
In the days following the Iranian presidential election, many thousands took part in marches and demonstrations across Iran, condemning both the process and outcome of the election.
Most of the demonstrations have been non-violent but in some cases violence erupted, including stone throwing and acts of arson. The police and security forces have used excessive force, including beating and clubbing with truncheons, to control some of the demonstrations.
Amnesty International has recorded at least 10 killings, of which eight have been confirmed by state media. At least four students are currently unaccounted for following an attack on their dormitory in Tehran – the authorities must urgently investigate their fate, and all reported killings.
Peaceful assembly is expressly permitted under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party. Law enforcement officials must use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.
They must not use firearms unless strictly unavoidable and then only in order to protect life. Law enforcement personnel must exercise restraint, minimize damage or injury and respect and preserve human life.
“For a Head of State to put the onus of security on peaceful demonstrators and not on the security forces is a gross dereliction of duty and a license for abuse,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.