Amnesty International says Iranian intelligence and security forces have committed “horrific acts of torture” against child protesters as young as 12 in their crackdown on six months of nationwide protests.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the paramilitary Basij, the Public Security Police and other forces used torture methods including beatings, flogging, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence against boys and girls in custody to “punish and humiliate them” and to extract forced “confessions,” the London-based human rights group said on March 16.
“Iranian state agents have torn children away from their families and subjected them to unfathomable cruelties. It is abhorrent that officials have wielded such power in a criminal manner over vulnerable and frightened children, inflicting severe pain and anguish upon them and their families and leaving them with severe physical and mental scars,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
According to Eltahawy, this violence against children “exposes a deliberate strategy to crush the vibrant spirit of the country’s youth and stop them from demanding freedom and human rights.”
Eltahawy urged the Iranian authorities to immediately release all children detained solely for peacefully protesting. Noting that effective impartial investigations into the torture of children can be expected in Iran, she called on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction over Iranian officials suspected of responsibility for the torture of child protesters and other crimes under international law.
Amnesty International says it has documented the cases of seven children in detail and obtained testimonies from the victims and their families. The group gathered further testimonies “on the widespread commission of torture against scores of children” from 19 eyewitnesses, including two lawyers and 17 other adult detainees who were held alongside children. The victims and eyewitnesses interviewed were from provinces across Iran.
The findings of the research were published six months after the eruption of an unprecedented popular uprising in Iran, triggered by the September 16 death in police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini.
The security forces have killed more than 520 protesters and unlawfully detaining over 22,000, human rights groups say. Amnesty International estimates that thousands of children could have been among those detained.
Following unlawful detentions and biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.