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Amnesty International says Iran’s security forces have resorted to unlawful use of force to “ruthlessly” crackdown on mainly peaceful protesters who have taken to the streets across the country over the past weeks.

Protesters, bystanders, and activists — including children — have been subjected to birdshot, mass arrests, enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill-treatment, the London-based human rights watchdog said in a statement on August 11.

Iranian authorities “have yet again given their security forces free rein to inflict severe bodily injury on protesters to maintain their iron grip on power and crush dissent,” said Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

Eltahawy urged the international community to support the establishment of “an investigative and accountability mechanism at the UN Human Rights Council to collect evidence of crimes under international law and facilitate independent criminal proceedings.”

On August 7, photographs and footage circulated on social media, as well as eyewitness accounts, show that security forces fired tear gas and birdshot at peaceful protesters in the city of Naqadeh in the predominantly Kurdish province of Western Azerbaijan, according to Amnesty International.

It said the violence, which also included security forces using batons against the protesters, left dozens of people injured. A 27-year-old man was also shot dead by a person in civilian clothes.

Witnesses were quoted as saying most of those injured have refrained from seeking hospital treatment due to fear of arbitrary arrest, which Eltahawy said “speaks volumes about the authorities’ cruel methods of torture and other ill-treatment.”

Amnesty International said that the crackdown in Naqadeh came weeks after Iranian security forces fired live ammunition to “crush” mostly peaceful protests over water shortages in the southern province of Khuzestan.

The protests, which spread to other parts of Iran, left at least 11 protesters and bystanders, including a teenage boy, dead, and scores of others injured, the group said.

There has also been an ongoing wave of arrests on the outskirts of the city of Kermanshah in Kermanshah Province in response to July 26 protests in solidarity with Khuzestan.

Source » rferl

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