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Iranian Students Rally in Front of Foreign Ministry to Support Zakzaky

Iranian university students gathered in front of the foreign ministry to urge accelerated diplomatic efforts to free Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky who is jailed by the Nigerian government.

The students carried placards reading “We are all Zakzaky” and “Free Zakzaky” to criticize the international community’s silence on the dire situation of Sheikh Zakzaky who needs urgent medical treatment.

The rallies are due to be held in different parts of Tehran for four days.

A statement issued at the end of the Monday rallies warned of attempts to kill Zakzaky despite his suffering from different diseases for years, and called on the Iranian government, specially the foreign ministry, the parliament and the judiciary to double efforts to free and treat the Muslim leader.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), based in London, announced earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

The cleric’s son, Mohammad, said earlier this month that his father was in dire need of medical treatment, as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood”. He stated that the authorities intended to murder his father since they refuse to take any measures.

In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered Zakzaky’s unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.

Last week, Police in Nigeria killed two supporters of Zakzaky, who were demanding his release in the capital, Abuja, according to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), an organization that he heads.

The two, who were members of the IMN, were shot and killed outside the National Assembly last Tuesday.

Clashes erupted as protesters gathered outside the parliament and then sought to enter to register a demand for the cleric’s release.

“The security… took our report to go and give the legislators but perhaps they refused to inform the legislators, or the legislators refused to respond. So, we decided to enter and submit it ourselves,” said one protester, adding, “But they stopped us and started spraying tear gas and shooting live bullets sporadically. I saw more than three people collapsing.”

Police also arrested 40 people during the rally.

In a statement, police claimed two officers had been shot and wounded in the legs, and six other officers had been injured, noting that they had “used minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters”.

According to human rights groups, Nigerian forces have killed at least 400 members of the IMN over the past four years.

The group regularly organizes protests outside the assembly to demand the release of its leader, whose life is reportedly in danger due to health issues.

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