The death of Mahsa Amini on 15 October 2022 sparked street protests in Iran, leading to a violent crackdown by the Iranian authorities. This led to the arrest and detention of 19,603 individuals, with reports of rape, violence and “extreme torture” of protesters in custody. This blog post will explore the horrific accounts of sexual assault, beatings and torture endured by protesters in Iran, while highlighting the call by members of the European parliament to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terror group.
The Brutal Reality of Iranian Detention
25-year-old Dorsa* was stopped at a checkpoint while driving through a city in the country’s northern Gilan province and subjected to a chaotic search. When two cans of spray paint were found in her sister’s bag, she and her companions were blindfolded and had their hands tied before being pushed into the rear of a police car. Dorsa was taken to an interrogation room, where she could hear the screams of her two male friends being tortured nearby. When it was her turn to be interrogated, Dorsa was beaten and punched repeatedly, before being stripped naked and raped with an object. She was then driven around for hours before being released at a remote location outside the city at 3am.
Amnesty International has released a detailed report confirming allegations of rape, violence and “extreme torture” of protesters in detention, including Arshia Takdastan, 18, Mehdi Mohammadifard, 19, and Javad Rouhi, 31. These three young protesters were subjected to “gruesome torture including floggings, electric shocks, being hung upside down and death threats at gunpoint”. The Guardian has spoken to 11 protesters, women and men, who claim that they were also subjected to rape, sexual violence, beatings and torture while being detained by security forces.
The Price of Freedom
Sara*, a woman in her 40s from Sanandaj, was arrested during the first wave of protests and sexually assaulted by security officers. She recounts how the officers were touching her breasts, buttocks, putting their hands between her thighs and pressing against her private parts, before using her hijab to gag her mouth. A nurse from a hospital in Gilan has encountered several women in the past few months who showed signs of sexual assault and rape. Kamyar*, a 30-year-old from Mashhad, claims that he was also sexually assaulted by police in a van on 9 November.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented serious abuses and sexual assault of protesters in detention, and has called on the international community to hold Iran accountable for rights violations. Members of the European parliament have also called on the western authorities to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terror group.
The horrific accounts of sexual assault, beatings and torture endured by protesters in Iran are a stark reminder of the price of freedom. It is essential that the international community takes action to hold Iran accountable for these human rights violations, and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.