March 16 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The NGO Amnesty International (AI) has accused this Wednesday the security forces of Iran, including the Revolutionary Guard, the Police or the Basij paramilitary forces, of deliberately torturing minors during anti-government protests.
In a new investigation that has included testimonies from victims and their families, as well as eyewitnesses, the NGO affirms that “thousands of children” have been arrested, tortured with different practices, raped, sexually harassed or kidnapped in Iran within the framework of of the protests following the death of the young Mahsa Amini for not wearing the veil properly.
“Iranian state agents have separated children from their families and subjected them to immeasurable cruelty,” said Diana Eltahawy, AI’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
In this sense, he has called the violence exerted by Iranian officials on “vulnerable and frightened” minors “abominable” and has assured that this is “a deliberate strategy to crush the vibrant spirit of youth.”
AI details that an undetermined number of minors have been detained along with adults -the total number of arrests for the protests exceeds 22,000 people- and taken to detention centers run by the Revolutionary Guard, as well as the Ministry of Intelligence, the Police or the Basij forces, among others.
Thus, the NGO assures that after days or weeks incommunicado, like their adult peers, they have been transferred to prisons in different parts of the country, where they have been detained and subjected to torture and ill-treatment, like the rest of the prisoners.
Most of the detained minors were released, often on bail, pending trial, while others were released only after being forced to sign a letter of repentance and promise not to attend “political activities.”
State officials went so far as to threaten minors with prosecution on charges carrying death sentences or even arrest their relatives if they reported the abuse. In at least two cases, documented by AI, families filed complaints with judicial authorities, which have not been investigated.
On the other hand, many of them have been kidnapped from the streets, during or after the protests, by policemen in civilian clothes, who have taken them to hidden places, such as warehouses, to torture them, with the aim of “punishing, intimidating and dissuade them” from attending rallies.
“We urge all states to exercise universal jurisdiction over Iranian officials, including those with superior command or responsibility, if their criminal responsibility is reasonably suspected,” the NGO has requested.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND DEGRADING PRACTICES
Amnesty International has also documented rape against minors and other forms of sexual violence, such as electric shocks to the genitals, touching, threats of rape or insults. All this, to “break their spirit, humiliate and punish them”, as well as to force “confessions”.
A mother of a victim told AI that her son was hose-raped. “My son told me: ‘They hung me up to the point where I felt like my arms were about to be torn off. They forced me to say what they wanted,’ the woman said.
Other methods of torture used by the Iranian security forces are flogging, beatings –at the time of arrest, in vehicles during transportation, or in detention centers–, as well as electric shocks, administration of pills with unknown effects or simulated drowning torture.
A relative of another victim told AI that plainclothes officers kidnapped children who wrote the slogan “Woman, life and freedom” on a wall and took them to an unspecified location, where they were tortured and threatened with rape.
“They gave us electric shocks. They hit me in the face with the back of a gun, they gave me electric shocks to my back, and they beat me on my feet, back, and hands with batons. They threatened that if we said anything, they would do things worse and they would hand over our bodies to our families,” one of the victims told a relative.
Both victims and relatives have assured that these agents used methods such as suffocation or suspension of legs and arms. Sometimes, in addition, they forced minors to perform humiliating acts.
“They told us (more than a dozen people) to make chicken noises for half an hour, for the time it takes to ‘lay eggs’. They made us do push-ups for an hour. I was the only child there,” another victim recounted. .
AI concludes its detailed report on the torture of minors in Iran by assuring that numerous boys and girls have survived “cruel and inhumane” detention conditions, such as overcrowding, poor access to toilets, deprivation of food and water, exposure to extreme cold and isolation. prolonged, among others.