In September 2022, the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died in police custody after being arrested by morality police for wearing the hijab “inappropriately”, sparked widespread protest across Iran. Authorities claimed Amini died of a heart attack in custodywhile her family said she was beaten. Protests around his death quickly turned into wider dissatisfaction with the regime.
Over the next six months, Iranian security forces routinely used drastic tactics to try to quell protests, going so far as to arrest children. In a report released Thursday, Amnesty International discovered that children arrested during and after protests had been subjected to electric shocks to their bodies, had their heads underwater, had been sexually assaulted and had been threatened with rape. Many children were only released after signing letters of “repentance” and promising not to participate in further protests, according to the human rights organization. The Iranian government did not respond to the report and did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
A mysterious wave of suspected poisonings across the country also landed more than 1,000 schoolgirls in hospital. Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, whose department leads investigations into poisoning reports, said in early March that 90% of hospitalizations came from “the stress and worries caused by the news.” Many Iranians dismissed that explanation, calling Vahidi’s claim “ridiculous” and criticizing the regime for failing to act on the reports despite widespread surveillance of residents.
In a press release on Thursday, the UN called the “deliberate” poisonings and condemned the government for failing to protect the girls and promptly investigate the cases.
“There is a stark contrast between the rapid deployment of force to arrest and imprison peaceful protesters and a months-long failure to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of large-scale, coordinated attacks on young girls in Iran,” they said. UN experts.