According to Amnesty International, children in Iran who took part in protests are being brutally tortured. Beatings, floggings, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence are commonplace for detained children aged 12 and over.
According to the Amnesty report, several boys were forced to line up with adult detainees and received electric shocks to their genitals. “Iranian officials have taken children away from their families and subjected them to unimaginable cruelty,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, calling for their release. “This violence against children reveals a deliberate strategy to suppress the vibrant spirit of the country’s youth and prevent them from demanding freedom and human rights.”
Children treated like adults
Iranian authorities have admitted that more than 22,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, according to Amnesty International. Amnesty International estimates that there may be thousands of children among those arrested. Like adults, they were initially transferred – often blindfolded – to detention centers of the Revolutionary Guards, the Ministry of Intelligence, the Public Security Police, the Investigative Unit of the Iranian Police (Agahi) or the paramilitary Basij. After days or weeks of solitary confinement or enforced disappearance, they were transferred to recognized prisons.
Plainclothes officers also abducted children from the streets during or after protests, taking them to unofficial locations such as warehouses, where they were tortured before being released to remote locations, the NGO said. These abductions were carried out without due process and were used to punish, intimidate and discourage children from participating in the protests.
Children had to sign ‘letters of repentance’.
Most of the children arrested in the past six months have apparently been released, sometimes on bail, pending investigation or trial. “Many were released only after signing letters of ‘contrition’ and pledges to refrain from ‘political activity’ and attend pro-government rallies,” the statement said.
Cruel torture methods
Many of the children had been beaten – other methods of torture included flogging, receiving electric shocks, being forced to take unknown pills and having their heads submerged. “Government officials have also used rape and other sexual violence, including electric shocks to the genitals, genital touching and threats of rape, as a weapon against detained children to break their will, humiliate and punish them,” Amnesty said.
“Inhumane” prison conditions
Accommodation in detention is often under “inhumane” conditions. Amnesty reported extreme overcrowding, insufficient access to toilets and washing facilities, lack of adequate food and drinking water, extreme cold and prolonged solitary confinement. Children have also not received adequate medical care, including for injuries sustained as a result of torture, Amnesty said.
The protests have been going on for months
In Iran, people – and especially many girls and women – have been demanding more rights for months. The protests were sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. She was arrested in September by the vice police because she would not wear her headscarf properly. Activists claim that Amini was mistreated by the police. The security forces are cracking down on the accompanying protests en masse.
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