(CNN) According to human rights organization Amnesty International, Iranian authorities have used torture methods, including sexual violence, against detained children as part of the crackdown on recent protests.
“Iranian intelligence and security forces have committed horrific torture, including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence against child protesters as young as 12 years old to quell their involvement in nationwide protests,” Amnesty said on Thursday.
A report by the group revealed “the methods of torture used by the Revolutionary Guards, paramilitary Basij, Public Security Police and other security and intelligence agencies against boys and girls in custody to punish and humiliate them and to extract coerced ‘confessions’ .”
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said Iran’s “violence against children exposes a deliberate strategy to destroy the vibrant spirit of the country’s youth and deter them from freedom and to claim human rights.”
Amnesty “obtained testimonies from the victims and their families, as well as further testimonies about the widespread torture of dozens of children from 19 eyewitnesses, including two lawyers and 17 adult detainees who were held with children,” the human rights organization said.
The protests were first sparked by the death of 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini, who died on September 16, 2022, after being detained by the country’s vice squad.
According to Amnesty, Iran has admitted to detaining more than 22,000 people during the protests, but has not specified how many of them were children. The group estimates that there may be thousands of children among the detainees.
Amnesty also said that “state agents used rape and other sexual violence, including electric shocks to genitals, touching genitals and threats of rape, as weapons against detained children to break, humiliate and punish them, and/or extract ‘confessions’. to force.”
“Other methods of torture mentioned include flogging, administering electric shocks using stun guns, forcibly administering unidentified pills and holding children’s heads underwater,” the Amnesty report added.
Amnesty called on Iran to release all children detained over peaceful protests, and urged other countries to “exercise universal jurisdiction over Iranian officials, including those in command or superior responsibility, who are reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law, including the torture of children.” protesters.”
CNN has reached out to the Iranian government for comment, but has not yet received a response, and the government has not yet publicly responded to the report.
In February, CNN revealed the existence of an extensive network of illegal clandestine prisons, or black sites, in Iran.
The methods of repression and torture employed in this shadowy network seem even more gruesome than the regular harsh treatment arrested protesters can expect in legal detention centers.
CNN has reached out to the Iranian government for comment on allegations of torture and abuse at these unofficial locations, but has received no response.