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Abducting Children to Punish the Parents

October 19, 2022
Samaneh Ghadarkhan
7 min read
Iranian security forces have abducted several schoolchildren in Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan, the Kurdish activist Ammar Goli has told IranWire
Iranian security forces have abducted several schoolchildren in Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan, the Kurdish activist Ammar Goli has told IranWire

Iranian security forces have abducted several schoolchildren in Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan, the Kurdish activist Ammar Goli has told IranWire. This includes a 13-year-old boy, whom we will refer to as “Jivan” to protect his identity. Jivan was on his way to the supermarket when he was abducted by plainclothes officers and taken to a detention center belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Sanandaj. Jivan had not previously been involved in any political activity prior to his abduction.

IranWire spoke to one of Jivan’s relatives about what happened to him.


According to the Kurdish activist Ammar Goli, the government is kidnapping children in order to terrorize their families. “One of the children who was kidnapped in Sanandaj in recent days was severely beaten. They also broke his father’s leg when he protested his child’s arrest,” Goli said, adding that the children being kidnapped are boys aged between 10 and 15 years old.

We spoke to Jivan’s aunt, whom we will refer to as Avin to protect her identity.

“My sister, Jivan’s mother, is extremely shocked,” she said. “For three days I haven’t been able to talk to her. Jivan is also in shock. He’s in a very bad physical and mental condition. He doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep, and refuses to talk to anyone except his parents. If I quote him, I’m actually quoting my family because Jivan is so badly shocked.”

Avin added that Jivan had been threatened with a knife and been detained for hours in handcuffs and shackles.

Kidnapped while shopping

Jivan is 13 years old and very fond of sports, particularly football. The day he was abducted by security forces he and his patents were visiting his grandfather. Before sunset, Jivan left his family to go shopping at a supermarket near Sanandaj’s Baharan neighborhood. “After half an hour my sister was calling him repeatedly, but his phone had been turned off. She grew worried and she and her husband started searching for him.”

After his family found him, Jivan told them what happened on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 12: “A little after he left his grandfather’s home, a white vehicle stopped next to him and two plainclothes officers got out of the car. They rushed at him and told him to give them his cell phone.”

Jivan told his mother he thought they were organ traffickers who wanted to kidnap him and steal his kidneys: “They asked me if I had a phone. Then they took my phone and told me to open my Instagram. But I don’t have Instagram so they told me to turn off my phone and run straight ahead.”

Jivan’s aunt said her sister is very strict and does not allow her children to go on social media.

Jivan turned off his phone. He later told his mother: “I was so stressed that I couldn’t run. I could only walk very slowly. It was like my feet were locked. I was so afraid that I couldn’t breathe or even walk. I tried to breathe very softly so the agents wouldn’t notice I was frightened. I was moving towards a shop very slowly so I could find someone to ask for help, or shout or shelter in a house - but nobody was around.”

When Jivan was 10 steps from the car, it stopped in front of him and the door opened. A passenger got out of the car, covered his eyes with a handkerchief, hit him violently on the head and threw him into the car.

According to his aunt, Jivan must have been unconscious or semi-conscious at this point. As a result, his only memory of the abduction is the indistinct sounds he heard while in the car.

Where was Jivan taken?

According to stories told to Jivan’s family by other families, children arrested during recent protests in Sanandaj have been taken to a “club” located in the military zone. Avin said the “club” is a fortified building in the center of Sanandaj which previously served as the officers’ club. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the military zone came under the control of the IRGC and later became the headquarters of the vigilante paramilitary organization, the Basij.

10 hours without any news

From the moment when Jivan left home at 5pm, until his parents found him at 3am, they were unable to find any trace of him. At the club, Jivan was extensively interrogated. One of the agents told him he knew every member of his family and then named them one by one, including his aunt, his parents and his grandmother, who used to be a member of Komala (Kurdistan's Organization of the Communist Party of Iran). They told Jivan his aunt is “political” and has a Telegram account. Jivan said: “I had no idea what to say because I knew nothing.”

Komala is an opponent of the Islamic Republic and has had clashes with its armed forces since the revolution. Its main area of activity is Iranian Kurdistan and along the Iran-Iraq border, although following the founding of the Iranian Communist Party (CPI) in 1983 it became active in some other areas.

During the interrogations, plainclothes officers asked Jivan about the activities of his aunts, uncles and other members of his family. “I don’t know anything. I was on my way to the supermarket and I have no idea what I am doing here,” Jivan told them.

“I have no idea why but they beat him severely,” his aunt said. “His family have taken photos of his whole body, but my sister is afraid to send them to me. Almost all his body is bruised and one of his ribs is broken, even though there have been no demonstrations in the neighborhood where he was abducted. Fearing he could be taken again, a doctor came to their home and examined him there.”

She said her nephew is fond of sports, particularly football, and she has never heard him express any interest in politics. Addressing the plainclothes officers who abducted her nephew, she said: “You did this horrible thing to this child to show what savages you are? To say: If you make a move, we will kill you?”

How Jivan was found

When Jivan did not return from the supermarket, his parent started searching for him at police stations and hospitals. According to Avin, one of her nephews wrote on Instagram: “Hi everyone. Do you know where they are detaining people?” By this time, the family was certain Jivan had been arrested.

“When I saw my nephew’s Instagram post I knew something had happened,” Avin said. “I guessed they had arrested Jivan. When I asked my nephew, he told me he was looking for a friend who had been arrested. They only told me they were looking for Jivan after he had been released.”

While the family was searching for Jivan in police stations, a woman told his mother: “If you want to find your son, go to the club. Lots of people are detained there.”

After 10 hours of searching, Jivan’s family finally found him and managed to get him released on bail.

According to her aunt, security forces have been tapping the phones of the entire family: “I can’t call them so I don’t know exactly what the situation is. I only know my sister is doing so badly they have taken her to hospital. I’ve been told she is suffering from heart and breathing problems and is unable to talk. I’m scared she might have had a heart attack. I wish I could talk to my sister.”

Jivan has now been released on bail but, according to his aunt, he cannot sleep and is unable to leave the house: “He spends the day sitting on the couch and staring into space. He’s broken.”

When Jivan was released, security forces threatened his family, saying: “If somebody asks you where Jivan has been, you must say he’s been arrested by the police. You must not mention the club.” They also demanded that Jivan’s family shut down their social media accounts.

In its most recent statement, the Iranian Children’s Rights Society strongly criticized the arrests of children during recent protests and their treatment while in detention. As of October 13, 2022, 28 children have been killed.


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