The United Nations human rights office has voiced concern at Iran’s treatment of detained protesters and said authorities refused to release some of the bodies of those killed, as demonstrations in the country continue.
“We’ve seen a lot of ill-treatment … but also harassment of the families of protesters,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a Geneva press briefing on Friday, citing multiple sources.
“Of particular concern is information that authorities have been moving injured protesters from hospitals to detention facilities and refusing to release the bodies of those killed to their families,” she said.
Shamdasani added that in some cases, authorities were placing conditions on the release of bodies, asking families not to hold a funeral or speak to the media. Protesters in detention were also sometimes being denied medical treatment, she said.
The Iranian government has not commented on the claims so far, but has accused Western nations of meddling in its internal affairs, and said Iran’s “enemies” were hatching plots against the country.
Iran has been gripped by demonstrations since the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody last month. The unrest has posed one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s leadership since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Video footage on social media showed protesters in the city of Zahedan, close to Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, on Friday calling for the death of “dictator” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Basij militia, which has played a major role in the crackdown on demonstrations.
Iranian authorities have not released official tallies, but many dozens are thought to have been killed during the protests, and many more arrested. A tough crackdown by security forces has failed to ease the unrest.
The protests were held in defiance of warnings from Khamenei and conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, who appeared to try to link the Amini protests to Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Shah Cheragh Shia shrine in the southern city of Shiraz, which state media said killed at least 15 worshippers.
Amnesty International cited “unlawful killings” of at least eight people in four provinces within 24 hours by Iran’s security forces in a statement late on Thursday.