Iran: Rights Groups Say Security Forces Killed, Tortured Protesters


(RFE/RL) — Human rights activists say that at least eight people, including a child, were killed in the violent suppression of protests in the western Iranian city of Javanrud, while dozens of others were beaten and arbitrarily detained by security forces.

Javanrud, a Kurdish-majority city, became a flashpoint for unrest following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab, or head scarf.

A joint report by the Iranian rights groups Kurdistan Human Rights Network and the Human Rights Campaign, released on September 6 to mark the upcoming anniversary of the nationwide “Woman, life, freedom,” protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, showed the families of those killed, injured, and arrested have been pressured by the authorities to keep silent over what took place.

“The actions in Javanroud were systematic, carried out with the full knowledge and direction of government officials. The extensive use of military equipment against civilians is a stark example of a crime against humanity,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the director of Human Rights Campaign.

“The possibility of protests starting again in Iran is very high in the face of the violent reaction of the government and suppression of protesters,” he added.

The findings of the joint report are based on an extensive review of hundreds of photos, videos, and interviews with 38 eyewitnesses, including families of the deceased, injured, and those detained in Javanrud.

According to the report, from October 8 to December 31, security forces targeted protesters using “military-grade weapons.”

Beyond the fatalities, the report indicates that at least 80 individuals, some of them children, sustained severe injuries. Many of the injured faced further physical assault at the hands of security personnel.

The human rights organizations also highlighted the arbitrary arrest of 89 individuals, 26 of whom were children. Many detainees, including minors, were subjected to torture and threats of sexual assault.

Despite the severity of the allegations, no government officials have faced legal repercussions. The report goes a step further, naming some of the alleged perpetrators in Javanroud.

Rabin Rahmani of the Kurdistan Human Rights Network said the “recurring human rights violations” in marginalized regions like Kurdistan and Baluchistan “pave the way for tragedies like those witnessed in Javanrud and Zahedan.”

Amini’s death sparked protests in Saghez that spread around the country and ultimately posed one of the biggest threats to Iran’s clerical establishment since the foundation of the Islamic republic in 1979.

Human rights groups estimate that over 500 protesters were killed by security forces. Thousands were detained, with seven facing execution after what many have termed “show trials.”

The report concludes with a call to action, urging the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Iran, adopted in November 2022, to probe the Javanrud incidents. It also appeals to global governments to condemn the events in Javanrud and to consider imposing political, economic, and diplomatic sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The human rights groups further recommend the formation of multilateral coalitions to publicly denounce the actions of the Islamic republic, suggesting joint statements at events like the UN General Assembly later this month.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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