People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran September 21, 2022.

Rights Group Urges Global Action Against Iran Protests Suppression

Wednesday, 09/13/2023

Amnesty International has urged the international community to combat impunity for the brutal crackdown of Iranian protesters by the Islamic Republic. 

In a statement released on the occasion of the first death anniversary of Mahsa Amini that catalyzed a revolt later known as the Women, Life, Freedom movement, the human rights organization said the world must pursue pathways for justice at the international level to address systemic impunity for Iranian officials responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings of protesters and widespread torture. 

Exacerbated by years of economic and social suffocation and subjugation under the rule of a corrupt autocratic regime, people took to streets across Iran last September. The uprising was dealt with by a bloody crackdown by police and Revolutionary Guard’s agents leaving about 600 protesters dead and tens of thousands detained. 

Iran's riot police forces stand in a street in Tehran, Iran, October 3, 2022.

Amnesty pointed out that Iranian authorities have committed a litany of crimes under international law to eradicate any challenge to their iron grip on power over the past year. “These include hundreds of unlawful killings; the arbitrary execution of seven protesters; tens of thousands of arbitrary arrests; widespread torture, including rape of detainees; widespread harassment of victims’ families who call for truth and justice; and reprisals against women and girls who defy discriminatory compulsory veiling laws.” 

The group’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, slammed the regime’s authorities for “inflicting unspeakable cruelty on people in Iran for courageously challenging decades of repression and inequality,” noting that “not one official has been criminally investigated, let alone prosecuted and punished for crimes committed during, and in the aftermath of, the uprising.”

She also described the anniversary of the ‘Woman Life Freedom’ protests as “a stark reminder for countries around the world of the need to initiate criminal investigations into the heinous crimes committed by the Iranian authorities under universal jurisdiction.”

Eltahawy also called on the world's leaders to issue statements explicitly calling on Tehran to halt the use of firearms against protesters, stop torturing detainees, and release all detained protesters. “These actions show victims they are not alone in their darkest hour.” 

Amnesty decried the regime's raft of new measures against women and girls who defy compulsory hijab, including the confiscation of cars and denial of access to employment, education, healthcare, banking services and public transport as well as finesand degrading punishments, such as washing corpses.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reviews armed forces during a graduation ceremony for armed Forces Officers' Universities at the police academy in Tehran, Iran October 3, 2022.

“This assault on women’s rights is taking place amid a spate of hateful official statements referring to unveiling as a 'virus', 'social illness' or 'disorder' as well as equating the choice to appear without a headscarf to 'sexual depravity,’” the right group added. 

Amnesty also raised alarm about the detention and summoning of human rights defenders and journalists, saying that “at least 90 journalists and other media workers and 60 lawyers, including those representing families of individuals unlawfully killed,” have been arrested. Scores of other lawyers were summoned for interrogations. 

Describing it as “a tsunami of torture,” Amnesty said that to quash the protests security forces fired live ammunition and metal pellets, causing injuries amounting to torture or other ill-treatment to thousands, including blinding, loss of limbs and impaired mobility. “The authorities also oversaw the widespread commission of torture and other ill-treatment against thousands of detained protesters, including children.” 

Amnesty International called the establishment of a Fact-Finding Mission on Iran by the UN Human Rights Council in November 2022 as a good measure but insisted that much more is needed “to deter further cycles of bloodshed.”

During the past several days, the international community has stepped up condemnation of Iran’s crackdown on dissent as Iranians are getting ready for more protests on the anniversary of the uprising, but none has so far resulted in tangible results for the people. 

The US overwhelmingly passed the MAHSA Act on Tuesday to strengthen Washington’s sanctions on the regime over violation of human rights. Also on Tuesday, members of the European Parliament grilled EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell over the bloc’s Iran policy. 

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