Amnesty International: ethnic and religious discrimination is systemic

TEHRAN – On Tuesday, Iran was accused by Amnesty International of killing more than 300 people, including children, during the suppression of protests that swept the country. Amnesty also confirmed the arrest of thousands of people arbitrarily, many of whom were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture.

Amnesty criticized the Iranian government’s discrimination against women and its targeting of women’s rights advocates, some of whom have been sentenced to prison and flogging on charges of inciting debauchery, prostitution and its facilitation.

According to Amnesty, freedom of religion and belief in Iran have been systematically violated, in both law and practice. Authorities continue to impose rules of public behavior, derived from a strict interpretation of Shi’a Islam, on the followers of all religions and atheists and restrict important political positions from non-Shi’a Muslims.

The continued encroachment on minorities, including Christians, through arrests and arbitrary imprisonment, forced closure of businesses, confiscation of property, and discrimination in the public sector, noted Amnesty. Universities routinely deny dozens of minority students admittance through exclusionary policies, severely restricting employment opportunities.

Amnesty points out that Christians have been subjected to harassment, arbitrary detention, and punishment for practicing their religion. Police raids on houses acting as churches are common practice.