Iran child protesters subjected to ‘horrific’ prison abuse: Amnesty

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Amnesty International on Thursday accused Iran of subjecting children arrested in a crackdown on women-led protests to “horrific” abuse including beatings, electric shocks, and rape.

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The London-based human rights group said it estimated that thousands of children had been arrested in the crackdown, with minors as young as 12 suffering treatment equating to torture.

Protests erupted in Iran in September over the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, following her arrest for an alleged violation of Iran’s mandatory dress code for women.

The authorities have responded with a crackdown that has seen, according to rights groups based outside Iran, thousands arrested, and hundreds killed by security forces.

Amnesty said security forces have been committing acts of torture against detained children, “including beatings, flogging, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence” against child protesters as young as 12 to quell their involvement in the protests.

While authorities have given no clear breakdown on those detained, Amnesty said it estimated that “thousands of children could have been among those swept up in the wave of arrests.”

It said children, like adults, were first taken, often while blindfolded, to detention centers and moved to recognized prisons only after several weeks of being held incommunicado.

Based on the documented cases of seven children, and eyewitness accounts related to dozens of others, it said state agents used rape and other sexual violence -- including electric shocks to genitals -- as well as rape threats as a weapon against child detainees to break their spirits.

In one case, a mother said state agents raped her son with a hosepipe while he was forcibly disappeared.

Other torture methods included floggings, administering electric shocks using stun guns, the forced administration of unidentified pills, and holding children’s heads under water, it said.

One boy meanwhile recounted that in a humiliation tactic, detained children were told to make chicken noises for half an hour “for so long that we lay eggs.”

“Iranian state agents have torn children away from their families and subjected them to unfathomable cruelties,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“This violence against children exposes a deliberate strategy to crush the vibrant spirit of the country’s youth and stop them from demanding freedom and human rights,” she added.

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