Amnesty calls on Iran to release peaceful protesters after mass arrests

Protests over the tough economic situation in Iran began last December, spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in at least 25 deaths. (Getty Images)
Updated 08 August 2018

Amnesty calls on Iran to release peaceful protesters after mass arrests

  • Amnesty urged the authorities to reveal the whereabouts of dozens of detainees whose families have not heard from them since their arrests
  • The world’s leading human-rights organization also urged the authorities to conduct an investigation into the killing of a protester in Karaj

LONDON: Amnesty International has called on Tehran to release peaceful protesters following a wave of arrests over demonstrations against Iran’s dire economic conditions and its foreign military interventions.

The world’s leading human-rights organization also urged the authorities to conduct a “prompt, impartial and independent” investigation into the killing of a protester in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, on Aug. 3.

“Amnesty International is also urging the authorities to protect all detainees from torture and other ill-treatment and to reveal the fate and whereabouts of dozens of detainees whose families have not heard from them since their arrests,” the rights group said in a statement.

“Among those detained and at risk of torture and other ill-treatment is human rights defender Nader Afshari, who was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials on 1 August 2018 in the city of Karaj, north-west of Tehran, and whose whereabouts are unknown as he is being held in a secret detention facility.”

Protests over the tough economic situation in Iran began last December, spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in at least 25 deaths.

They have intensified in the past week, with a fresh wave of demonstrations in cities including Esfahan, Karaj, Rasht and Tehran, resulting in what Amnesty described as a “wave of mass arrests.”

“Since 31 July 2018, thousands of people have taken to the streets to voice their grievances over increasing economic hardship in Iran caused in part by high inflation and the steep devaluation of the rial currency,” Amnesty said.

“Most of the demonstrations appear to have been peaceful, but in some instances protesters have engaged in acts of violence, including stone-throwing, arson and other damage to vehicles and buildings.”

“According to reports from journalists and human rights activists inside Iran, as well as independent news groups outside the country, security forces have detained scores of people in jails and secret detention facilities notorious for torture and other ill-treatment over the past week, denying many of them access to their families and lawyers.”


UAE eases limits on foreign ownership to attract investors

Updated 24 November 2020

UAE eases limits on foreign ownership to attract investors

  • Earlier this month, the UAE also announced a series of reforms to its Islamic legal code
  • The reforms allow foreign entrepreneurs and investors to set up their own companies without involving local shareholders

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has relaxed and removed a range of limits on foreign ownership of companies, state-run media reported Monday, in the country’s latest bid to boost its global status and attract foreign investors.
Earlier this month, the UAE announced a series of reforms to its Islamic legal code, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, improving protections for women and loosening restrictions on alcohol consumption.
The dramatic changes come as the UAE has spent billions of dollars preparing to host some 25 million visitors for the World Expo, which was pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic.
The UAE also expects Israelis to join the legions of foreigners who have opened up businesses and bought apartments in the coastal cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi following a breakthrough US-brokered normalization deal between the countries.
Dubai in particular, which was teetering on the brink of an economic downturn before the pandemic thanks to a weak real estate market, is eager for the influx of capital and travelers. COVID-19 has battered its economy, which draws largely from the tourism, hospitality and aviation industries.
The presidential decree that alters the corporate law helps the UAE “strengthen its leading position regionally and globally as an attractive destination for projects and companies,” state-run WAM news agency reported.
The reforms allow foreign entrepreneurs and investors to set up their own companies without involving local shareholders, the agency said.
That’s a welcome development for the country’s many expatriates who long had their ownership capped at 49 percent in firms outside free zones.
Other legal amendments remove quotas requiring that Emiratis hold the majority of board positions and serve as chairs for onshore companies. Companies that want to be publicly traded will be able to sell up to 70 percent of their shares instead of the current 30 percent limit.
The amendments will certainly diminish the appeal of 45 “free” zones across the UAE, where those wanting to avoid local-hiring quotas and retain full foreign ownership would set up shop.