[JURIST] At least four people were killed in Iran on Sunday after violence broke out between government security forces and opposition protesters. The protests, which were the largest since those that followed the June presidential election [JURIST news archive], interrupted [Tehran Times report] the Shia Muslim celebration of Ashura, which marks the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein. Iranian officials warned the public against protests prior to the holy day. The government initially denied reports that shots were directed into the crowds, claiming that the security forces were not armed. Police later confirmed [Tehran Times report] that four individuals were killed, several others, including police officers, were injured and over 300 protesters were arrested. Among those reported dead [NYT report] is the 35-year-old nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi [JURIST news archive].
The Iranian government has faced significant international scrutiny for its handling of the protests and treatment of thousands arrested as a result. Earlier this month, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] labeled [JURIST report] human rights violations committed by the Iranian government following the election among the worst of the past 20 years. In September, human rights groups called for [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly [official website] to appoint a special envoy to investigate allegations of rights violations. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings, and forced confessions [JURIST reports].