by Uzay Bulut
The hundreds of anti-regime protesters and civil rights activists who have been arrested by Iranian security forces since the eruption of mass demonstrations on November 15 -- after the government raised the price of gasoline -- are in danger of torture, forced confessions and even death sentences.
According to the organization Iran Human Rights (IHR):
"The detainees are held in unknown places, and their families are not informed about their whereabouts. Moreover, there has been a total internet blackout imposed by the authorities making information flow very difficult.
"'Most of the detainees could not call their families. Their relatives have tried to find out where they are held. They even do not know their beloved ones are dead or alive,' a well-informed source told IHR."
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of IHE, said: "Today, Iranian people need the international community's attention, more than ever."
According to Amnesty International, although there are reports from Iranians that "as many as 200 [demonstrators] have been killed," Tehran's state-run media has been downplaying the numbers by saying that only a "handful" of protesters have died.
Iranian officials have also threatened the protesters with execution:
"The Supreme Leader's representative at Kayhan Newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote last Monday: 'Some of the judiciary officials are sure that the execution by hanging awaits the leaders of the protests.'
"The Supreme Leader's deputy representative at IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], Hassan Tayebifar, asked the judiciary to issue the toughest verdict for the protesters. Toughest verdict in the Iranian Islamic Penal Code is the death penalty.
"Fars Province chief prosecutor threatened the protesters in the same way. In Shiraz, the capital of Fars province, 'at least 200 people were sent to quarantine ward in Adel Abad prison. Four of them are wounded. At least one is shot,' a source from Adel Abad prison told IHR. According to the source, Seyed Reza Taheri is the name of the wounded person. He suffers from pain and is in danger of infection."
Amnesty also reported:
"On 16 November, less than a day after the protests began, the authorities implemented an ongoing near-total shutdown of the internet, shutting off nearly all means of online communications for people inside Iran. The resulting information blackout is a deliberate attempt by the authorities to prevent people from sharing images and videos of the deadly force being used by security forces.
"According to the NGO NetBlocks, Iran's connectivity to the outside world has fallen to 4% of ordinary levels since the protests began. All mobile networks have been disconnected and there is a near-total national internet and telecommunication blackout, although some users have still been able to access the internet through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other means."
The internet company Oracle described the information blackout as "the largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran."
This internet blackout, according to IHR director Amiry-Moghaddam, "might indicate the Iranian authorities' plans to use even more violence against the protesters."