Iran’s regime has committed acts of torture, rape and other sexual violence against child protesters as young as 12, Amnesty International says in its latest report.
The international human rights organization has conducted research into the repressive measures Iranian intelligence and security forces have used against children in the six months since protests erupted in Iran.
“The research exposes the torture methods that the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij, the Public Security Police and other security and intelligence forces used against boys and girls in custody to punish and humiliate them” and to extract forced “confessions,” Amnesty said.
At the height of the protests in from October to December last year, almost daily reports and videos from Iran revealed many cases of children being arrested, tortured, and dozens who were killed or blinded by gunfire. But the report released Thursday is based on a systematic collection of evidence and testimonies from victims and families, implicating the Iranian government in violence against children.
“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…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,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The report also said that although the government has not released a breakdown of the 22,000 protesters it says it arrested, a significant portion of demonstrators were children. Many have been held alongside adults, Amnesty said, which is a violation of international standards. They were “subjected to the same patterns of torture and other ill-treatment.”
Amnesty International also said that its investigation revealed “that state agents used rape and other sexual violence, including electric shocks to genitals, touching genitals, and rape threats as a weapon against child detainees to break their spirits, humiliate and punish them, and/or extract ‘confessions.’ This pattern is also widely reported by adult women and men detainees.”
Cruel treatment of children also included detention in inhumane conditions, including extreme overcrowding, poor access to toilets, insufficient food and water, exposure to extreme cold and solitary confinement, Amnesty said.
The United Nations launched an investigative and fact-finding mission in November tasked with looking into all the reports and evidence of severe rights violation by the Islamic Republic. The members of the team were appointed in December.
The UN Human Rights Council announced that President Federico Villegas has appointed Sara Hossain of Bangladesh as the chair of the mission. Shaheen Sardar Ali of Pakistan and Viviana Krsticevic of Argentina are the two other members of the mission.
“The authorities must immediately release all children detained solely for peacefully protesting. With no prospect of effective impartial investigations into the torture of children domestically, we call on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction over Iranian officials, including those with command or superior responsibility, reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law, including the torture of child protesters,” Amnesty demanded.