Iranian security forces should immediately halt the use of excessive force against demonstrators in an ethnic Arab province of southwestern Iran, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should open independent and transparent investigations into all alleged killings there since protests began on April 14, 2011, Human Rights Watch said. Authorities should also restore regular telephone and internet communications to the region, Khuzestan province, and allow independent international media and human rights organizations free access to conduct investigations in the province.
Iranian rights activists and international media have reported that Iranian security forces fired live ammunition as well as teargas at largely peaceful protesters on a number of occasions, killing several dozen protesters since the demonstrations began. Human Rights Watch also received reports that authorities have arrested several hundred protesters and rights activists in Khuzestan and severely curtailed communications in the area.
„Iran has made it impossible to confirm the scale of the deadly violence against protesters in Khuzestan province, making transparent and independent investigations into alleged killings and arrests there absolutely essential,“ said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. „Iran’s wall of silence around Khuzestan certainly makes it seem that the government is trying to hide what its security forces have been doing there.“