A scene in the women’s ward in Evin Prison, Tehran, Iran (File)

Iran Protests: Demonstrators on Streets for Festival of Fire

Amnesty International has documented how Iran’s intelligence and security forces are committing acts of torture — beatings, floggings, electric shocks, rape, and other sexual violence — against detained minors as young as 12.

Hoping to halt participation in the country’s six-month protests for rights, justice, and gender equality, the security forces are using the torture to punish and humiliate boys and girls and to extract forced “confessions”.

See also Iran Protests: “They Gagged Us With Our Hijabs” — The Abuse and Rape of Detainees

Amnesty documented seven cases in details, using testimonies from the victims and their families. These are supported by evidence of other cases from 19 eyewitnesses, including two lawyers and 17 adult detainees who were held alongside children.

The victims and eyewitnesses are from provinces across Iran including East Azerbaijan, Golestan, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Razavi, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Mazandaran, Sistan and Baluchestan, Tehran, and Zanjan.

Iranian officials have said more than 22,000 people have been detained at some point since protests began on September 16 over the death of Mahsa Amini — detained and reportedly beaten by “morality police” — in police custody. State media has said minors make up a significant portion of the detainees.

Amnesty found arrested children were initially taken, often while blindfolded, to detention centers run by the Revolutionary Guards, the Ministry of Intelligence, the Public Security Police, the investigation unit of Iran’s police, or the Basij paramilitary force. After days or weeks of incommunicado detention or enforced disappearance, they were moved to recognized prisons.

Some juveniles were abducted by plainclothes agents from streets during or in the aftermath of protests, taken to locations such as warehouses, tortured, and then abandoned them in remote locations.

While most of the children have been released, sometimes on bail pending investigations or referral to trial, many were only freed after they were forced to sign “repentance” letters with the promise to attend pro-regime rallies and to refrain from “political activities”. They were often threatened with prosecution on charges carrying the death penalty or with the arrest of relatives if they complained.

A mother spoke of sexual violence against her son after he was abducted.

My son told me: “They hung [me] to the point that I felt like my arms were about to rip off. I was forced to say what they wanted because they raped me with a hosepipe. They were taking my hand and forcibly making me fingerprint the papers.”

Another relative recounted the abduction of several schoolboys were abducted for writing “Woman, Life, Freedom” on a wall. THey were them to an unofficial location, tortured, threatened with rape, and then dumped semi-conscious in a remote area. A victim told the relative:

They gave us electric shocks, hit me in my face with the back of a gun, gave electric shocks to my back and beat me on my feet, back and hands with batons. They threatened that if we told anyone, they would [detain us again], do even worse and deliver our corpses to our families.