New reports have emerged of state brutality during the recent protests in Iran, including the killing of numerous children, after the government partially restored internet connectivity in the country.
One case has gone particularly viral online. Nikta Esfandani, a 14-year-old girl, was reportedly shot in the head by security forces, according to opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Her body was given to her family three days after she was killed.
Although Esfandani’s family were told that they do not have to pay for the bullet that killed their daughter, UK-based human rights organization Amnesty International reported that the Islamic Republic has been charging families of the victims to cover the cost of the bullet or bullets used to kill their loved ones.
Iran’s state TV has denied that security forces killed Esfandani in a recent TV report. In the report, Esfandani’s father was interviewed and asked if his daughter was “political” and if she “opposed the regime and its policies.”
“No … she was only 14,” said her father.
Reports of other children being killed by security forces in the recent anti-government protests in Iran have also emerged online.
Amir-Reza Abdollahi, aged 13, was also killed by security forces on November 16 in the city of Eslamshahr in the Tehran province, according to exile-run news website IranWire. The Abdollahi family, like the Esfandani family, were only able to retrieve their son’s body after three days.
According to the BBC Persian, 17-year-old Hossein Ghassemi was killed in the capital Tehran between November 16 and 17.
In Ahwaz, the capital of the southwestern Khuzestan province, 16-year-old Reza Neissi was killed by security forces on November 16, according to reports on social media.
Security forces also reportedly shot dead 17-year-old Sassan Eidi Vandi in the city of Isfahan, activists on social media say.
These reports have only surfaced since the Iranian government partially lifted the shutdown of the internet. The blackout made it difficult for Iranians to post videos on social media to report on what has been happening on the ground during the protests.
It was also previously reported that Ali Ghazlawi was killed in the first two days of unrest in the city of Khorramshahr (Muhammara) in the province of Khuzestan. He was only 12.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the US had received nearly 20,000 messages from Iranians about human rights abuses by the regime.
“We have received to date nearly 20,000 messages, videos, pictures, notes of the regime’s abuses ... and hope they will continue to be sent to us,” he told reporters.
Protests began on November 15 in several towns after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent. They spread to 100 cities and towns and quickly turned political with protesters demanding top officials step down.
In its most recent report, Amnesty said at least 143 people were killed in the unrest. Iran has rejected death toll figures as “speculative.”
A report by IranWire citing a source at Iran’s Ministry of Interior put the death toll at least 218, while the National Council of Resistance of Iran put the death toll at least 450.