[WARNING: This article contains graphic details of child injuries.]
A United Nations-led call for an international mechanism to investigate the treatment of protesters in Iran has been backed by the UK charity Save the Children.
The call for an independent international investigation to probe the Iranian government’s handling of the protests was made by 22 UN experts in an Oct. 26 press release.
The charity on Nov. 7 urged the UN to examine the treatment of children during the protests in any investigation. It also requested an immediate stop to the violent crackdown by security forces on demonstrators. The crackdown has led to the deaths of dozens of children with hundreds more injured, according to an Oct. 17 UN report.
Save the Children works in 118 countries but does not have offices or operations in Iran.
“We support the call for an international investigation into events in Iran over the past seven weeks and an immediate stop to violence against peaceful protests,” Inger Ashing, the chief executive of Save the Children, said in the Nov. 7 statement. “Violence against children is unacceptable and any attack on women’s rights is an attack on girls’ rights.”
Protests in Iran erupted following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody. She was detained for allegedly flouting the country’s compulsory hijab laws.
Names of ages being released of those killed in past 6 weeks in Iran. Many of them children. pic.twitter.com/iJzOo7GA2W
— ShallyZomorodi (@shallyzomorodi) November 1, 2022
The protests, which have now gone on for more than 53 days, have turned into a nationwide call for regime change by broad cross-sections of Iranian society, including children.
Between 40 to 50 children are estimated to have been killed in the ongoing protests, according to non-governmental organizations such as the Norway-based Iran Human Rights.
Shocking and detailed information about the murders of children during the protests is being collected by Amnesty International, using audiovisual evidence and informed sources.
Amnesty said children represented 16 percent of all protesters and bystanders killed by security forces, in an Oct. 13 report documenting the confirmed deaths of 23 children between Sept. 20 and Sep. 30. The report said 20 boys aged between 11 and 17 had died and three girls, two of whom were 16 and one who was 17, had also been killed.
The report held that most of the boys were killed by police forces unlawfully firing live ammunition at them. Additionally, 10 of the 23 children killed were Baluchi, an ethnic minority group in Iran routinely persecuted by the government.
At least seven children were shot in the head, heart and other major organs.
Javad Pousheh, aged 11, was shot in the back of the head with live ammunition during a brutal crackdown on a Sept. 30 protest in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan province. The bullet pierced through his right cheek and left a large hole.
Amir Mehdi Farrokhipour was 17 when he was shot by security forces on Sept. 28 during a protest in Tehran. Amir was shot with metal pellets and live ammunition, and died from gunshot wounds to his chest.
The Iranian government has been accused by human rights groups of covering up the murders of children during the protests, claiming that some children had jumped off roofs or died in car accidents. There are also reports of Iranian officials forcing families of the children to make video statements ‘confirming’ the claims.
Several more children have been killed by police forces since the publication of Amnesty’s report.
Parmis Hamnava, a young girl in eighth grade, was killed by security forces in Iranshahr after they discovered images of the founder of the Islamic Republic were torn out of her schoolbooks. Parmis was badly beaten by police, and died of her injuries the following day in hospital. Her family and friends were threatened by intelligence agencies not to disclose her death to the media, according to a report by Halwash news agency.
Talented chef Mehrshad Shahidi, aged 19, — nicknamed Iran’s Jamie Oliver — was killed by Iran’s armed forces on Oct. 25 during a protest. Mehrshad was violently beaten with batons while in custody in the city of Arak. He died from his injuries, according to local media reports. Hundreds of people attended a memorial for Mehrshad on Oct. 30 despite a warning from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that Oct. 29 would be the ‘last day’ of protests.
A message to the world!
These are just two examples of protesters who stood against Islamic Republic and got killed by security forces in #Iran
— Sima Sabet | سیما ثابت (@Sima_Sabet) November 2, 2022
Speaking to news channel Iran International, one of Mehrshad’s parents said, “Our son lost his life as a result of receiving baton blows to his head after his arrest, but we have been under pressure by the regime to say that he has died of a heart attack.” The judicial head of the province, Abdolmehdi Mousavi, said there were no injuries or fractures on Shahidi’s body.
Komar Daroftadeh, aged 16, was shot dead by police during demonstrations on Oct. 30 in the Kurdish city of Piranshahr. Komar said, “We are the people of the Middle East, some of us will die in war, some in prison, some in the street, others drown in the sea,” in one of his last posts on Instagram.
Anti-regime protests in Iran’s schools and universities have spread across the country in recent weeks, with thousands of children taking part in demonstrations in their classrooms and on the streets. Defying the government’s warning about protesting, children and young people have continued to hold sit-ins, chanting slogans such as, “We don’t want child-killing regime!” and “Death to Dictator.”
Scores of children were arrested and put in prison by security forces, but were later removed from custody following a global uproar about the arrests. Education Minister Yousef Nouri told the Shargh newspaper on Oct. 11 that detained children were being sent to “psychological centers” to “educate and amend” their behavior, instead.
The UN committee on the rights of the child urged Iran’s authorities to stop all violence against children, including the right to protest peacefully, in an Oct. 17 statement.
“Many families reported that, despite grieving for the loss of a child, they were pressured to absolve security forces by declaring that their children had committed suicide and making false confessions,” the committee said.