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Iran Used AI to Monitor Protesters, Says Head of UN Fact-Finding Mission

March 18, 2024
2 min read
Hossain further revealed that the mission scrutinized expert opinions and official documents released by the Iranian government
Hossain further revealed that the mission scrutinized expert opinions and official documents released by the Iranian government

Sara Hossain, the head of the United Nations' independent fact-finding mission on Iran's 2022 protests, said the Islamic Republic's authorities had utilized artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor protesters on social media platforms as she presented her report during a session of the UN Human Rights Council Monday in Geneva. 

Highlighting that "comprehensive investigations into human rights violations following the 2022 protests have been undertaken," she disclosed that the mission has amassed 27,000 documents and interviewed 134 witnesses and victims within and outside Iran.

Hossain further revealed that the mission scrutinized expert opinions and official documents released by the Iranian government.

She asserted that the UN fact-finding mission's discoveries, informed by the treatment of women and supported by medical records, conclusively demonstrate that Mahsa Amini was unlawfully killed, holding the government accountable for her death.

Moreover, she affirmed that the Islamic Republic utilized AI to monitor protesters on social media platforms.

Addressing the protests following Mahsa's death, Hossain said that government forces violently suppressed largely peaceful demonstrations.

The mission's head also disclosed that security forces employed military-grade weaponry, including Kalashnikovs, large-caliber shotguns, and paintballs, to quell the protests.

Additionally, Hossain confirmed that at least 551 individuals, including 49 women and 68 children, were killed by government agents across 26 provinces of Iran during the nationwide protests of 2022.

According to her, the highest death toll in a single day, reaching 103 individuals, was recorded on September 30, 2022, during protests following Friday prayers in Zahedan city.

She emphasized that not only are women who reject the government-mandated dress code targeted, but their families also face government pressure.

The mission's report, released on March 8, said that Iranian authorities resorted to "unnecessary and disproportionate use of lethal force" to quell protests erupting after Mahsa Amini's death. Mahsa Amini died in custody in 2022 after the morality police arrested her for wearing the hijab "improperly."

"The mission has … established that many of the serious human rights violations … amount to crimes against humanity – specifically those of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts," the report said.

It also said Iranian security forces were found to have sexually assaulted detainees during the months-long uprising.

"The security forces played on social and cultural stigma connected to sexual and gender-based violence to spread fear and humiliate and punish women, men and children," the report noted.

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