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As protests continue in Iran and the death toll, as well as arrests multiply, Human Rights Watch has called on the Islamic Republic to “refrain from using excessive force, investigate the deaths…and remove arbitrary restrictions on internet access”.

HRW issued a statement on January 2 from its Beirut office, which monitors the Middle East.

“The rising death toll bodes ill for Iranians who are daring to take their grievances to the streets,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than issue barely veiled threats against protesters, the authorities should investigate these deaths, ensure the rights of all detainees, and guarantee that people can protest freely and peacefully.”

HRW lists information available on the reported deaths and arrests, although it says it does not have definitive confirmation of what appears to be use of lethal force against protesters.

HRW says, Iranian authorities have a responsibility not only to ensure public safety, but also to ensure people’s right to peaceful assembly and to free access to information.

“Blocking the popular cellphone applications Telegram and Instagram is yet another over-the-top response to people raising grievances against systematic corruption and repression,” Whitson said. “Iranian authorities should change their addiction to repression and allow people to speak and demonstrate.”

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