On March 4, the authorities informed the family of Mohammad Raji, one of those arrested, that he had died in custody. The authorities have not investigated his death and had threatened reprisals against his family if they spoke about it publicly.
He said the authorities are charging the detainees with disturbing public order, disregarding police orders, conspiracy, collusion to disrupt the country’s national security, and using weapons.
The source with knowledge of the situation said that among those detained are family members, particularly women, to pressure their family members to confess that they used violence during the protests. The source said that members of the police and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Unit have been interrogating the detainees.
Several family members have confirmed that the authorities are not giving detainees access to lawyers or permitting regular family visits or phone calls. They also said that several people injured during the February 20 crackdown have not had adequate access to medical treatment. They include Ahmad Barakoohi, Nima Azizi, Mohsen Noroozi, and Mehdi Mahdavi, who have serious eye injuries, and Shokoufeh Yadollahi, who has a head injury, the family members said.
Attacks on police forces are criminal acts, but Iranian authorities should not extend criminal responsibility to an entire group of protesters, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because it is an inherently irreversible, inhumane punishment.
Under international law, everyone is allowed to participate in lawful and peaceful assemblies, based on the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials require them to avoid the use of force when dispersing assemblies that are unlawful but nonviolent or, if that is not practicable, to restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.
Article 14 of the ICCPR also requires Iran to ensure the right to a fair trial for anyone brought before the criminal courts. This includes the right “to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing.” The Iranian authorities should not only charge detainees with a recognizable crime, but they should also ensure the right to a fair trial for those charged, Human Rights Watch said.