Iranian government using executions, beatings, and rape to to discourage the protests

If you haven’t been following this story, the protests started in September after members of Iran’s morality police beat a woman named Mahsa Amini to death for failing to wear a hijab properly. That was the last straw for a lot of women in Iran who have been courageously protesting the regime in the streets for weeks.

Last week lawmakers led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voted to execute up to 15,000 protesters. But the regime is also using beatings and rape to discourage the protests. CNN went to the Iraqi border and spoke to people who were fleeing Iran.

Armita Abbasi, 20, bore all the hallmarks of a Gen Z-er. Her edgy hairdo was dyed platinum blonde and she had an eyebrow piercing. She wore colored contact lenses, and filmed TikToks with her cats from her living room…

After the protests began, social media posts under Abbasi’s name became charged with unrestrained criticism of Iran’s regime. It is unclear if she participated in the protests. Yet, unlike most Iranian dissidents inside the country, she did not anonymize her anti-regime posts…

On October 17, Abbasi was rushed to the Imam Ali hospital in Karaj, accompanied by plainclothes officers, according to leaks from that hospital. Her head had been shaved and she was shaking violently. In the accounts, the medical staff attending to her spoke of the horror they felt when they saw evidence of brutal rape…

“When she first came in, (the officers) said she was hemorrhaging from her rectum… due to repeated rape. The plainclothes men insisted that the doctor write it as rape prior to arrest,” wrote one member of the medical staff in one of the messages.

“After the truth became obvious to all, they changed the whole script,” wrote the medic. CNN can confirm that four to five medics leaked the messages to social media. All of them said they believed she was sexually assaulted in custody.

Iranian security forces rushed her out the back of the hospital just before her family arrived to see her. The regime claimed she’s been taken to the hospital for “digestive problems.” But when CNN called the hospital to ask about her treatment, they denied she had ever been there. She is now being held in a prison and her condition is unknown.

Another young woman named Hana was arrested and police found video of her burning her hijab. She described being held in a jail with about 30 other women:

“There were kids as young as 13 and 14 years old who were captured in the demonstrations. They were brutally hurt. They hurt the girls even more. They sexually violated them.”…

There was a main hall with private interrogation rooms off it, she says. “An officer would take a pretty girl, and he would go to a room to be alone with her and sexually assault her.”

Hana was also assaulted by one of the guards in an interrogation room. Overall CNN heard 11 stories involving rape or sexual assault, five of which they were able to corroborate. Human rights groups have also been receiving stories of similar abuse so there’s not much doubt this is happening. Iran’s regime will justify anything to preserve its miserable existence, even rape as a means to punish women for daring to remove a hijab.

Iranian security forces swept through a Kurdish region in search of protesters using helicopters, armored vehicles, firing live ammunition, and raiding homes on Saturday. The two months long protests are growing, not easing up, and Iranian officials are increasing their aggression against the opposition.

Protesters came out in Mahabad and surrounding areas. There were rumors on social media that Iranian authorities were preparing to attack the protesters. The protesters barricaded a key artery in Mahabad with cinder blocks and wooden doors. The authorities responded by deploying armed military forces. Local activists and human-rights groups reported that the monsters doing the bidding for Iranian officials fired at civilians and raided homes.

“I have witnessed hundreds of people being shot at [by the regime forces] and they have been severely injured,” said Soma, 29, a nurse in Mahabad who said she had treated many of the wounded in the past two days. Soma said the city was “militarized,” describing how armored vehicles and tanks had entered the city. Regime forces “have told the people that anyone who leaves the house will be fired at,” she said.

Regime forces “show no mercy,” said an activist from Mahabad. “Houses are full of injured protesters,” he said. He said one of his relatives died from untreated wounds Saturday after being shot by the security forces. The relative spent two days in hiding for fear of being arrested if he went to the hospital, said the Mahabad activist.

In footage posted late Saturday by Tavaana and Hengaw, an Iranian Kurdish human-rights organization, the sounds of heavy weaponry can be heard. Tavaana published pictures of ammunition it said can only be used with machine guns.

Witnesses said security forces were firing machine guns at protesters. “The pellet guns were replaced with warfare guns,” Ismail said. Three protesters were killed during a separate security force operation earlier on Saturday. Government forces shelled another town in Iranian Kurdistan as a response to protesters.

Government officials also shelled the Kurdish cities of Piranshahr, Marivan and Javanrud late Sunday. Three people were killed in Javanrud. Protesters gathered in front of a police station in Mahabad and the security force shot at them. The latest plan is apparently to simply fire shots at protesters instead of rounding them up and arresting them as they did in the beginning of the protests.

Iranian authorities have blamed Kurdish activists and separatists based in neighboring countries for fomenting protests that erupted in Iran’s Kurdish region following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurd who was arrested in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

The demonstrations have swept across Iran after her funeral on Sept. 17 in the predominantly Kurdish city of Saqqez in the country’s northwest.

In an unusual move, the operation involved the main security agencies—the police, the IRGC and the ministry of intelligence—according to media affiliated with security agencies and social-media accounts run by rights activists.

The armed forces were hunting Kurdish separatists who had come into conflict with a local pro-regime clan, outlets close to the IRGC said.

The IRGC is deploying heavy weapons to stop the protests. Its ground forces back the Islamic Republic’s political system.

Since the protests began, at least 58 children have been killed by security forces, some as young as eight years old. There have been 46 boys and 12 girls reported killed since September 16, all under the age of 18.

In the past week alone, five children were reportedly killed by security forces as violence continued across the country.

Those who died last week include the nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak, who was one of seven people – including a 13-year-old child – killed in the western city of Izeh on Wednesday.

Speaking at Kian’s funeral on Friday, his family said security services had opened fire on the family car, where Kian was sitting next to his father. Iranian security services have denied responsibility for his death, blaming the shooting on “terrorists”.

These deaths of these children are not accidents. The security force targets them with their families in order to intimidate adults from supporting the protesters. The protesters are not backing down. The Iranian officials label those they kill as terrorists or separatists to justify their killing. Not that they need justification, though, the brutal Iranian regime and its minions do as they please. They don’t answer to anyone, including the international community. Since the protests began, 200 Kurdish teenagers have been arrested. 300 teenagers have been fired on and injured by security forces.

Last week the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led the Iranian Parliament to vote in favor of executing 15,000 protesters. Iranian lawmakers wanted to send a “good message” to protesters to deter others from taking to the streets. The Ayatollah leads a brutal regime that has little use for women and barely recognizes them as human beings. Killing children is an extension of the disregard for the lives of Iranian citizens.

The Biden administration remains silent on all of this. American feminists are silent, too. I’m old enough to remember when Democrats were the ones lecturing us about human rights around the world. There’s nothing but silence now.

Two prominent Iranian actresses have been arrested for supporting the protests.

Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi are accused of collusion and acting against Iran’s authorities, Irna news agency says.

Both women earlier appeared in public without their headscarves – a gesture of solidarity with demonstrators.

Ms Ghaziani and Ms Riahi – both multiple-award winning actresses – were detained on Sunday on the orders of Iran’s prosecutor’s office, Irna says.

Before the arrest, Ms Ghaziani wrote on social media that “whatever happens, know that as always I will stand with the people of Iran”.

“This maybe my last post,” she added.

Other high-profile Iranians spoke out on Sunday.

Earlier on Sunday, Ehsan Hajsafi, captain of Iran’s national football team at the World Cup in Qatar, said that “we have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy”.

Separately, the head of Iran’s boxing federation, Hossein Soori, announced that he would not be returning home from a tournament in Spain due to the violent suppression of the protests in his home country.

The Guardian posted a video which shows various actions being taken by the Iranian security force, including firing live ammunition at protesters at a at a Tehran metro station. It’s not easy to watch.

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