Hold Iran’s Regime Accountable for Crimes Against the Children
Hold Iran’s Regime Accountable for Crimes Against the Children
Why this petition matters
It is a sad reality that in civil unrest where conflict breaks out, the most vulnerable members of societies – namely children- are most affected by the consequences. Violence against children has lifelong impacts on the health and well-being of children, families, communities, and nations.
In this letter, we bring your attention to violence against children committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran Security Forces, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), considered a terrorist organization in the US and Canada.
In the past few weeks, protests have been happening in different cities of Iran, demanding justice and fundamental change. Ignited by the murder of a 22-year-old Kurdish girl Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, by the Iranian government’s “Morality Police,” Iranians (primarily women) are protesting in the streets, voicing their rage and anger towards the 44-year rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran regime. The Iranian government is responding with brutal violence, cracking down on unarmed civilians indiscriminately using a variety of weapons, including batons, tasers, and firearms such as buckshot, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.
Killing the Youth
On Oct 13th, 2022, Amnesty International reported:
Iran’s security forces have unlawfully killed at least 23 children to crush what many people in Iran consider a popular uprising against the Islamic Republic. The victims, aged between 11 and 17, include twenty boys and three girls. Iranian security forces have killed at least 23 children in recent nationwide protests. Security forces killed most of the boys with live ammunition and two others with metal pellets. In addition, three girls and a boy died after fatal beatings by security forces. Ten child victims belonged to the oppressed Baluchi minority and were killed by Iran’s security forces on “Bloody Friday,” the deadliest day of the crackdown, in Zahedan. At least seven were shot in the heart, head, or other vital organs.
Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO), a non-profit human rights organization based in Norway, also confirmed the death of 23 children adding, “It is important to note that security issues and the internet shutdown hinder efforts to verify many of the reported deaths. As a result, many of the reported killings are still under investigation, and the exact number of those killed is higher”.
Sarina, a 16-year-old girl who posted popular vlogs on YouTube, was killed when the security forces beat her with batons at a protest in Gohardasht in Alborz province on Sept 23rd, according to Amnesty International.
Nika, a 16-year-old, called her mom on the phone, telling her that she was running away from security officials before her phone died. The family went looking for her at hospitals and police stations but were told they had no one with that name. Meanwhile, videos of her singing and joking around were shared worldwide. Nine days later, the police showed images to her mother to confirm that the dead body in the photograph was Nika. “Her cheeks were broken. Her teeth were broken. She had received a severe blow behind her head, and her skull was dented,” her mother said. In the official death certificate circulating online, her cause of death has been cited as “multiple blows caused by a hard object.”
Nika’s family told reporters that the security forces stole her body and only returned it to her family on Oct 1st, ten days after she went missing. Her family had planned to bury Nika in her hometown. Instead, the security services buried her in another village without seeking the family’s permission. Nika was buried on her birthday. She never turned 17.
Setareh, a 17-year-old Afghan girl, fled Afghanistan to Iran after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. She was severely beaten by Iran’s security forces. Like Nika Shakarami, her cause of death was cited as “multiple injuries caused by a hard object” in her death certificate.
Amin, a 16-year-old boy living in the city of Oshnavieh, went to the streets to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s Morality Police. He was shot dead by the police.
Abolfazl, a 16-years-old boy, was shot by 24 rubber bullets on Oct 8th, in front of Ferdowsi University, in Mashhad. His family told VOA news that Abolfazl went to the hospital severely injured and died an hour later. Iran’s security forces threatened Abolfazl’s family, forcing them to make a statement declaring that Abolfazl supported the Islamic Republic of Iran and was a loyal member of Iran’s Basij force, a paramilitary volunteer militia strongly supported by Iran’s government. In addition, security forces threatened the family that Abolfazl’s body would not be given to them for burial if they did not comply.
Arresting, Abducting, and Assaulting the Children
On Oct 4th, The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) news agency (Sepah News) reported that the average age of detainees is 15. In addition, human rights groups reported that Iran’s security and IRGC forces had arrested more than 1,200 people at street demonstrations.
On Oct 9th, The Guardian reported:
Iranian school children, girls and boys both, were being arrested inside school premises by security forces arriving in vans without license plates, according to social media reports emerging from the country as protests against the regime entered their fourth week… Footage showed demonstrations in dozens of cities across Iran early on Sunday, with hundreds of high-school girls and university students participating in the face of teargas, clubs, and, in many cases, live ammunition by the security forces, rights groups said. Tehran has denied the use of live bullets.
Iran’s minister of education, Mr. Yousef Nouri, told Iran’s Sharq daily that detained students are kept in “psychological centers” rather than in prison and that they will be allowed back in school once they have been “reformed.”
Students’ parents still do not know where their children are.
The atrocities committed by the Iran government forces against the children are numerous:
- Iran security forces forcefully entered a primary school and deployed tear gas inside the school building.
- Iran security forces and IRGC used tear gas and adamsite in front of the schools.
- Iran security forces broke into schools and investigated students’ belongings, including their bags and cell phones. Security forces abducted some students without informing their parents. After three days, detained students’ whereabouts are still unknown.
- IRGC and Basij forces repeatedly blocked the entrance of multiple schools to stop the parents from entering the school. In addition, they are actively threatening and scaring students of all ages, from primary school to high school, and all genders.
Abuse of the children by recruiting them as armed forces
UK-based news website, Iranwire, posted photos of children dressed and equipped as security forces in the city of Varamin, Tehran province, in an apparent government effort to dissuade street protests by deploying minors against demonstrating citizens. Iran’s government now uses young boys and teenagers to attack the protestors. Journalists have posted photos of these young boys (14 years old and younger) wearing tactical gear and batons. Other photos show young boys wearing regular clothing with a baton and a plastic shield in their hands. Iran’s government and security forces are exposing these children to acute levels of violence – engaging them as witnesses, forced participants, and victims. This is immoral and violates the 1989 Convention on the Rights of The Child.
As Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, correctly stated: “The Iranian authorities have repeatedly shown utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and will stop at nothing to preserve power.” Iran’s government is violently suppressing the protests, and children are paying a very high price.
In an interview, Mr. Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), said: “Call this what it is: Kidnappings of children by a state that is stopping at nothing in its attempts to quell protests and terrify the people of Iran into submission.”
In the past 44 years, Iran’s government has not been held accountable for its crimes against humanity. Iranian officials operate with such impunity that they openly admit to child kidnappings and killings without any fear of being held responsible by the international community for engaging in such monstrous actions. There has been no accountability for atrocities by the Islamic Republic as far back as the 1980s when thousands of political prisoners were executed, many of whom were teenagers.
The Iranian people need the support of the entire international community to attain their rights and freedoms. Therefore, we call on you to:
- Continue to forcefully and publicly condemn, at the highest levels, the Iranian government for violence against women, protesters, and civil society activists; and call on the authorities to end the internet blackout, call off the violent crackdown, allow for peaceful protests, and release all wrongfully detained individuals;
- Lead the establishment of an urgent special session immediately after the conclusion of UNHRC’s 51st regular session to bring governments into a debate about addressing the current violent crackdown and Iran’s ongoing human rights and children rights crisis;
- Support the initiation of an independent, impartial investigative mechanism at the UNHRC that investigates crimes committed against the Iranian people by their government and documented by UN human rights mechanisms over decades;
- Call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of its people and end state-sanctioned discrimination against women and children;
- Advocate for unfettered and cost-free access to the internet and communications technologies by the Iranian people.
Iranians have been demanding their fundamental human rights for many years through nationwide peaceful protests, and signing petitions addressed to high-rank Iran officials. The government repeatedly responded by lethal force while Iranians were disconnected from the global internet. Finally, Iranians are saying enough is enough. They demand a fundamental change and no longer accept to negotiate with a regime that kills men and women of all ages. Iranians can no more accept the violence and atrocious behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran government towards children, adults, and the elderly.
We need you to stand with the Iranian people, and we need you always to remember each and every child who was murdered, assaulted, and harassed by the Iranian regime. As Garça Machel wisely said:
“It is unforgivable that children are assaulted, violated, murdered and yet our conscience is not revolted nor our sense of dignity challenged. This represents a fundamental crisis of our civilization.”