Children picked up at demonstrations in Iran face ‘psychological centres’

Children picked up at demonstrations in Iran face ‘psychological centres’


Dozens of Iranian children have been killed and hundreds imprisoned after becoming involved in protests over Mahsa Amini’s death, some even ending up in “psychological centers,” it turned out.

Iran has been rocked by nearly a month of demonstrations fueled by public outrage over Amini’s death after morality police arrested her for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

Fed up with the lack of change, the country’s Gen Z teens, who were born before 2010, have come of age and been credited for their bravery when confronting security forces.

“Iranian Zoomers are frustrated/angry with the status quo and are not afraid to say it online and get off the Islamic Republic’s red lines,” tweeted Holly Dagres, an Iran specialist at think tank Atlantic Council.

Night after night, young women and schoolgirls have appeared in the streets with their hair bare and their fists raised, shouting “Woman, Life, Freedom” and “Death to the Dictator”.

However, the youth involved in the protest movement have paid with their lives as the US-based human rights group HRANA has identified at least 18 dead minors – the youngest just 12 years old.

However, it is widely believed that the total number of children killed is much higher.

Iran’s Children’s Rights Protection Society said this week that at least 28 people have died, including many from the underprivileged Sistan-Balochistan province.

The Tehran-based group said families are being “kept in the dark” about their children’s whereabouts and that their cases are continuing without proper legal representation.

Human rights lawyer Hassan Raisi said some of the arrested children were being held in detention centers for adult drug offenders.

“This is very worrying,” he was quoted as saying by London-based news website Iran Wire on Wednesday.

Anyone “under the age of 18 must never be detained with a criminal over the age of 18 … This is a legal requirement, not a recommendation.”

“Around 300 people between the ages of 12-13 and 18-19 are in police custody,” he said, without elaborating.

Among those killed in the protests are Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh – two 16-year-old girls whose deaths sparked grief in Iran and around the world.

– “Anti-Social Characters” –

Protesting children have also been arrested off the streets and in classrooms, Iranian Education Minister Yousef Nouri told the reform-leaning Shargh newspaper in a remark published on Wednesday.

“There aren’t that many,” he replied when asked how many schoolchildren had been arrested. “I can’t give an exact number.”

Nouri said the detainees were being held in “psychological centres”.

The goal, he said, is “correction and rehabilitation” to prevent them from becoming “antisocial characters.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said Monday it was “extremely concerned” by reports of “killed, injured and detained children and young people” in Iran.

Despite the bloody crackdown and the blocking of smartphone apps popular with Iranian teenagers, like Instagram and TikTok, internet-savvy youth have still managed to put out videos of their protests.

They have also adopted new tactics for the streets.

Those who set out to protest wear masks and hats, leave phones to avoid being followed and take extra clothes for a change of clothes when marked by paintballs, which security forces use to identify them later.

Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Fadavi, told Iranian media on October 5 that the “average age of detainees at many of the recent protests is 15 years”.

“Some of the arrested teenagers and young adults used similar key phrases in their confessions, such as comparing street riots to video games,” Mehr Fadavi news agency quoted as saying.

Concerns about video games were also echoed by other officials.

Cleric Aboulfazl Ahmadi, head of a provincial organization linked to the Morality Police, said this month that Iran’s enemies “have bet on the country’s teenagers” and that “some video games have been developed to bring youth onto the streets at times like these.” .

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