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US outlines Iran abuses including torture in annual report

Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the international community to confront Iran's violent clampdown on protests.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the unveiling of the State Department’s annual report on global human rights to spotlight the Iranian regime’s six-month-long crackdown on protesters

Iran has been convulsed by anti-government protests since 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran’s morality police in September following her arrest for an alleged dress code violation. The State Department’s report details significant human rights issues at the hands of the Iranian government, including unlawful or arbitrary killings, forced disappearance and torture. 

“Iranian forces are using torture and gender-based violence against arrested protesters. Journalists and lawyers are harassed and preemptively detained. Sham trials and hasty executions are used to further intimidate the people of Iran,” Blinken told reporters Monday. 

“The international community has come together to condemn and confront Iran’s brutal crackdown, and we’ll continue to act in support of the right of the Iranian people to speak out for their fundamental freedoms,” he said. 

The Biden administration has issued 10 rounds of sanctions tied to the protest crackdown and internet censorship since mid-September. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department blacklisted Iranian prison officials it said were complicit in the rape, torture and mistreatment of female inmates in their custody. 

The State Department’s annual rights report came as a United Nations-appointed expert told the Human Rights Council on Monday that Iran’s protest violations may amount to crimes against humanity. 

Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, said “the most serious human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past four decades” have been committed since the protests erupted in 2022. Rehman told the 47-member council that at least 527 people were killed in Iran’s protests, including 71 children. He accused security forces of firing live ammunition on unarmed protesters and beating others, including children. 

Amini’s death was “not an isolated event” but “the latest in a long series of extreme violence against women and girls committed by the Iranian authorities,”  Rehman told the UN rights body. 

Iran’s state coroner said Amini died from a pre-existing condition, but Rehman said her death was "a result of beatings" from the morality police. 

Last week, an Amnesty report 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.

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