Iran must allow peaceful gatherings during ‘Ashoura
Amnesty International has urged the Iranian authorities to ensure that freedom to gather peacefully is assured during ’Ashoura religious celebrations this month. “Iran’s government must make ‘Ashoura the time to end the practice of preventing peaceful demonstrations - including by making pre-emptive, arbitrary arrests - and ensure that excessive force is not used in the event that those taking part in ‘Ashoura commemorations gather to voice their opposition to the government,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme. “We call on the Supreme Leader to ensure that no one faces arrest or the batons of plain-clothed Basij for merely taking part in a peaceful demonstration on such a solemn occasion.” Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned mounting repression of dissent in Iran and the excessive use of force. It has called for the Basij not to be used in the policing of demonstrations on account of the violence they have meted out against those taking part in ongoing demonstrations. Protests have continued since the disputed June election, sometimes on days marking other events of national significance. ‘Ashoura, the 10th day of the Islamic month of Moharram, is a Shi’a Muslim religious occasion marking the killing, or martyrdom, of Hossein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and an important religious and community leader. It will be marked by a national holiday in Iran on 26 and 27 December.