Sunday, January 24, 2010

Iran crackdown on protests "human rights disaster"

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's crackdown on opposition protests following June's disputed presidential election was a "human rights disaster," U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.

The rights group also said in a report that Iran has staged hundreds of show trials of detained opposition protesters.

Iran has dismissed previous criticisms of its human rights record. It has said that the opposition protests were illegal and have been orchestrated by foreign powers including the United States and Britain to undermine the Islamic Republic.

Iran witnessed its worst internal strife since the Islamic revolution in 1979 when supporters of opposition candidates who lost to hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to the streets, leading to violent clashes with security forces.

Thousands were detained. Most have been freed but more than 80 were jailed for up to 15 years and five were sentenced to death.