A group of schoolgirls removing their hijab in support of popular protests

Iranian Regime Forces Abuse, Torture, Kill Children During Protests: HRW

Tuesday, 04/25/2023

In its latest report, Human Rights Watch claims Iranian security forces have systematically murdered, tortured, and sexually assaulted children during the nationwide protests.

The rights group claims judges have barred children's families from hiring lawyers of their choice to defend them, and found Iranian authorities have arrested, interrogated, and prosecuted children in violation of legal safeguards.

Released Tuesday, the report details eleven cases of child abuse between September 2022 and February 2023. Children have been arrested and detained by security forces without informing their families.

In some cases, the students released from detention are barred from returning to school, or their families' social welfare has been cut off, forcing them to go to work.

Tara Sepehri Far, a senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “Over the past seven months, the authorities have not hesitated to extend the coercive power of the state to silence even children.”

Tara Sepehri Far, a senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch

Detailing first hand accounts, one high school student said security forces set her clothing on fire, beat and whipped her, and pushed her onto a lit gas range during arrest. Another 17-year-old boy spoke of being brutally beaten and sexually assaulted.

According to the report, there have been numerous instances of torture, including the forcing of needles under a young boy's nails, the torture of two children to obtain information about their family’s whereabouts, and the torture of a 16-year-old who attempted suicide twice after being electrocuted, beaten, and sexually assaulted by interrogators.

Children injured by security forces have not been provided with medical care and their family members have been threatened to keep silent about the abuses.

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others, have documented widespread and violent repression of protests by the Iranian government, including the killing of children.

So far, well over 500 protesters -- including at least 69 children -- have been killed in regime crackdowns since the protests began in September, according to the Human Rights Activists' News Agency (HRANA).

Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations to act. In a statement, it said: “The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Iran should investigate these grave abuses against children as part of its broader reporting on the Iranian government’s serial human rights violations.”

Iranian law forbids prosecution and interrogation of children by anyone other than specialized children's prosecutors and youth courts. However, according to the report, a revolutionary court judge, a cleric, was co-appointed as a youth justice judge in one case involving 16 defendants, including three children.

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