Amnesty Reports Iran Forces Using Sexual Violence Against Protesters

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Amnesty international

By Jubin Katiraie

Amnesty International reported on Wednesday that Iranian security forces have used sexual violence against women who took part in peaceful protests after the authorities admitted to shooting down a Ukrainian airliner.

Amnesty wrote that they received allegations of the security forces using sexual violence against at least one woman who was detained for several hours in a police station after being arbitrarily arrested by plainclothes security agents.

An informed source told the human rights organization that the detained woman was taken to a room and questioned by a security official, who forced her to perform oral sex on him and attempted to rape her.

Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said: “Iran’s security forces have once again carried out a reprehensible attack on the rights of Iranian people to peaceful expression and assembly and resorted to unlawful and brutal tactics.”

In its report, Amnesty also said that the security forces used “unlawful force” against peaceful protesters, citing verified images and eyewitness testimonies. This included:

  • fired pointed pellets from air guns to cause bleeding and painful injuries
  • using rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray to disperse protesters
  • kicking and punching protesters, as well as beating them with batons

Mahsa, an eyewitness in Tehran who was filming events, described how security forces fired tear gas to stop protesters from fleeing the scene and avoiding retribution. She said that she was so anxious that she didn’t initially realize she’d been shot.

She said: “The situation in Iran right now is even more painful than death. They are killing us slowly; they are torturing us to death.”

Luther criticized the regime for this, saying: “It is appalling that Iran’s security forces have violently crushed peaceful vigils and protests by people demanding justice for the 176 passengers killed on the plane and expressing their anger at the Iranian authorities’ initial cover-up.”

Amnesty also reported that there were widespread extrajudicial arrests of protesters in Ahvaz, Isfahan, Zanjan, Amol, Babol, Bandar Abbas, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Tehran, with security forces keeping a heavy presence in hospitals, leading people to fear that they will arrest patients. This happened during the November uprising, so hospitals have turned injured protesters away, warning them that they could be arrested if caught there.

Amnesty urged the Iranian authorities to “end the repression”, ensure that security forces exercise “maximum restraint”, and respect protesters’ rights to peaceful protest. They said that those arrested must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment and all those arbitrarily detained must be released.