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Human Rights Watch: Iran Should End Arrests for 'Immorality'

An international rights group is urging Iran to halt what it calls a nationwide crackdown on what Iranian authorities view as deviant dress and behavior.

Human Rights Watch in a statement accused the Iranian government of arresting thousands of men and women in recent weeks for their allegedly immoral behavior. It says most have been released after signing commitments to observe official standards, but others have been referred to the judiciary for prosecution.

Human Rights Watch said the arbitrary arrests threaten basic rights to privacy.

Last year, Iranian police announced plans to begin a strict crackdown on so-called social corruption issues, including women violating Islamic dress codes.

In its statement, Human Rights Watch reports that police detained more than 80 people in a raid on a birthday party in the city of Esfahan last week. A witness told the group that police accused some attendees of the private gathering of wearing the clothes of the opposite sex.

The witness reported that, after leading the party guests outside, police stripped some of them to the waist and beat them.