UN: Iran has committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in crackdown on protests

The Iranian regime has committed gross human rights violations, and even crimes against humanity, with its actions during and after the women’s rights demonstrations that took place in the country from 2022 onwards. That has a United Nations committee concluded on Friday after investigation.

The investigative committee found evidence of murder, torture, rape and disappearance at the hands of the regime. The International Court of Justice speaks of crimes against humanity in “a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population.”

The committee assumes that at least 551 demonstrators, including 68 minors, died due to “unnecessary and disproportionate violence” by the vice police. According to the commission, the rights of women, children and minorities were violated “disproportionately”. Hundreds of children, sometimes as young as 10 years old, were arrested without their families receiving information about them. People were tortured in detention.

Women and girls sometimes experienced sexual violence, “including gang rape, rape with an object, electrocution of genitals, forced nudity and groping.” At least nine young men were executed after their arrest, “following sham trials based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment.” Although police officers have also been killed, most of the protests were peaceful, the commission said.

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According to the report, this repression continues today. Arrested demonstrators remain in custody and are still at risk of the death penalty. “We urge the Iranian authorities to halt all executions, immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily arrested and detained in the context of the protests, and to end the repression of demonstrators, their families and supporters,” said committee member Shaheen Sardar Ali.

The months of protests and their suppression by the regime – also extensively reported in the press – followed the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022, who died in the custody of the vice squad. Amini was arrested because she allegedly did not wear her headscarf according to the strict rules that apply in Iran. The UN commission now concludes that physical violence by police led to her death. The committee blames the regime for not investigating her death, but instead withholding the facts.

The Iranian regime did not want to cooperate with the investigation. According to the AFP news agency, it condemns the UN report, in which the country says “the facts have been deliberately distorted.”