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7 June 2004 -- Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Iran of intensifying a crackdown against critics of the Islamic republic.

The charge comes in a 73-page report issued today by the New York-based human rights group. The report is based on interviews with journalists, writers, and student activists. It documents systematic abuse against political detainees, including arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, torture to extract confessions, and prolonged solitary confinement.

The report says the Iranian authorities have managed over the past four years "to virtually silence the political opposition within the country." The report said "a small group of judges" accountable only to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "has shut down public dissent."

The report also notes a three-year dialogue between the European Union and Iran has failed to achieve any tangible results. Human Rights Watch urged the EU to put more pressure on Iran to end its crackdown on political opponents.

(Reuters/AP)
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