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Iran committed 'horrific acts of torture' against detained children says Amnesty

The London-based organization says Iranian intelligence and security forces used brutal torture methods against children as young as 12 who were arrested in the crackdown on the country’s protests.
OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

A human rights watchdog accused Iran’s intelligence and security forces on Thursday of torturing children arrested as part of the brutal crackdown on the country’s anti-regime protests.

Amnesty International said in a report that children as young as 12 were subjected to “beatings, flogging, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence” while in detention.

The report’s release marks six months since a popular uprising erupted in Iran after the suspicious death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, following her arrest for violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women. Iranian authorities have responded to the protests with a violent crackdown, killing hundreds of protesters while detaining thousands of others. They also handed death sentences to at least 109 protesters, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group. Four men are known to have been executed so far on charges related to civil unrest.

Iranian authorities have acknowledged the arrest of more than 22,000 people involved in the protests. State media outlets reported that many of those arrested were children. Based on the testimonies of dozens of detainees across the country, Amnesty International estimates that thousands of children are currently in detention.

The London-based organization says children were detained alongside adults and received the same ill-treatment. “Basij agents forced several boys to stand with their legs apart in a line alongside adult detainees and administered electric shocks to their genital area with stun guns,” one adult detainee told Amnesty.

A mother recounted that her son was raped with a hosepipe and then was hung from his arms for so long that he felt they were going to break off.

“It is abhorrent that officials have wielded such power in a criminal manner over vulnerable and frightened children,” said Diana Eltahawy, the organization’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, calling on authorities to “immediately release all children detained solely for peacefully protesting.”

Fresh protests were held earlier this week after they had largely abated in recent months. Iranians took to the streets in the southern districts of the capital Tehran, in the southeastern flashpoint city of Zahedan and in several Kurdish cities to mark the fire festival Chaharshanbe Suri. Videos of protesters setting trash bins on fire widely circulated on social media. One showed a monument of slain Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in the city of Zanjan on fire after it was hit with a Molotov cocktail. In response, Iranian forces conducted a fresh wave of nationwide arrests. 

Iran’s judiciary head Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi announced on Monday that the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pardoned more than 22,000 people, including some arrested during the protests.

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