Iran’s indiscriminate crackdown on dissent

More than 7,000 Iranians were arrested in a massive crackdown that spared no one.
Sunday 03/02/2019
A file photo showing an Iranian university student attends a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by anti-riot Iranian police, in Tehran. (AP)
A file photo showing an Iranian university student attends a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by anti-riot Iranian police, in Tehran. (AP)

To judge from an Amnesty International report, 2018 was not a good year for anyone in Iran, except perhaps the ruling mullahs.

More than 7,000 Iranians were arrested in a massive crackdown that spared no one, including reporters, environmentalists, lawyers, women’s rights activists, trade unionists and members of ethnic and religious minorities.

In the course of the harsh repression of protests, more than 26 demonstrators were killed.

There were outrageous charges levelled at protesters and disproportionately harsh sentences handed down by unfair courts. In West Azerbaijan province, “spreading lies” was the charge against journalist Mohammad Hossein, who received 74 lashes as punishment.

Hundreds of followers of the Sufi order the Gonabadi were arrested. More than 200 of them received a total of 1,080 years in prison and 5,995 lashes.

At least 171 Christians were arrested because they dared practise their faith.

A peaceful protest against forced hijab wearing earned Shaparak Shajarizadeh a sentence of 20 years in prison.

With unrest likely to continue, only international solidarity with the victims of repression could slow the authorities’ onslaught. Public disquiet will continue to be seen considering the increasing hardship endured by Iranians as a result of not just US sanctions but also their own government’s profligate spending on adventures abroad and the widespread corruption within its ranks.

“Governments that are engaged in dialogue with Iran must not stay silent while the net of repression rapidly widens,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director.

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