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Human rights groups voice concern over Ahwaz

Amnesty International and the Paris-based Arab Commission for Human Rights (ACHR) have voiced serious concerns over continuing violence and human rights abuses in Iran's Khuzestan province, following a week of unrest.

Following riots over the government's programme of "ethnic restructuring" in the oil-rich province, the ACHR says it has received reports of "heavy casualties" from hospitals and called on the government to desist from using deadly force against unarmed protestors. The commission has also urged the release of all political prisoners and respect for minority groups' right to free speech.

Amnesty also criticised the regime in Tehran, saying: "The cycle of violence in Khuzestan must end to avoid further loss of life, injury, arbitrary arrest and damage to private and state property." It also called on the government to resume water supplies to Arab areas, which had been cut off to punish the Arab population.

Amnesty added: "There have also been reports of excessive use of force, unlawful killing and possibly of extra-judicial executions of protesters following circulation of reports that up to seven police or security officials had been killed by demonstrators and that the security forces are now operating a 'shoot-to-kill' policy."