Iran protests: deaths in custody spark human rights concerns


Human rights activists in Iran have raised concerns about mass arrests during the country’s largest protests in nearly a decade after at least three demonstrators died in a notorious Tehran jail. Two members of the Iranian parliament close to the reformist camp confirmed on Monday that one detainee, Sina Ghanbari, had died in Evin prison.

Separately, Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, told the Guardian on the phone from Tehran that at least two other protesters had died in the jail. They have not yet been identified. At least 21 people died after violent clashes between protesters and security guards during more than a week of demonstrations. Most of those killed were protesters and some were security guards, according to officials. More than 1,000 people, including at least 90 students, were arrested. “I spoke to a prisoner in Evin prison and I was told that three detainees had lost their lives,” Sotoudeh said. “When authorities resort to mass arrests, they cannot claim to protect their rights. It is not possible in such a situation for the judicial process to take its due course.”  Sotoudeh was particularly worried about the use of unofficial detention centres. During the protests of 2009 that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election as president, one such detention centre, Kahrizak, drew nationwide attention after it emerged that a number of protesters had been sexually assaulted, tortured and killed in custody.(theguardian)…[+]