Iranian security forces have arrested at least five children in a western Kurdish town over the past days, according to a Norway-based human rights organization, amid a heavy-handed state crackdown on nationwide protests.
"In the past 11 days, at least 25 Kurdish citizens, including five children, have been arrested or abducted by the Iranian government forces in Abdanan, Ilam province, during recent protests in this city," the Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw said on December 1.
One teenager, 16-year-old Sonia Sharifi, was arrested two weeks ago by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence agency during protests in Abdanan.
Authorities have asked for a bail amount of $30,000.
"Her family is poor and her father is a construction worker. They cannot afford paying the heavy bail," a source close to the family told IranWire.
Many children have joined the nationwide wave of protests sparked by the September 16 death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Tehran’s morality police.
The security forces have cracked down hard on the demonstrations, killing more than 440 people, including dozens of children. At least 18,000 people have reportedly been arrested.
On November 27, the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, condemned "the violence and abuse that have reportedly claimed the lives of over 50 children and injured many more during the public unrest in Iran."
The agency said that it is "deeply concerned about continued raids and searches conducted in some schools" and said that "schools must always be safe places for children."