Recent pictures circulating on social networks show children being used as repressive forces during the Iran protests.
During the new wave of protests in Iran against the government’s killing of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, images of armed children and teenagers wearing military uniforms have gone viral on social media. These pictures have sparked widespread reactions from internet users and children’s rights activists.
The government is misusing these children and teenagers in military outfits and equipment to suppress public protests. Under international law, any use of children as military forces or human shields is prohibited.
In a statement referring to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Protection of Children Rights Association states:
“According to the constitution, it is necessary to recognize the right to freedom of speech and civil protest. The presence of children with batons in the streets to confront the recent protests is a clear violation of children’s rights and irreparable effects on their psyche and well-being.”
The statement further adds, “The use of children in military operations of street suppression, on the one hand, and the killing and arrest of children in recent protests, on the other hand, show that the country’s leaders and officials pay the least attention to the rights of children to survive and grow up and instead of supporting the right to survival of children they have provided the ground for the escalation of violence and taking away the right to life of children.”
Previously, 800 child cultural activists, in a statement supporting widespread protests in Iran, warned about the instrumental abuse of children and teenagers as a force of repression.
In their collective statement, the children’s cultural activists stated that “lining up some armed teenagers with military uniforms in front of protesting people is a clear example of violating children’s rights and using them as a tool.”
Meanwhile, more than 500 members and supporters of “Jameeat-e-Imam Ali “, Society of Students Against Poverty, condemned the abuse of children by the government during the “Woman, Life, Liberty” uprising, calling it a clear violation of children’s rights contrary to the spirit of “The Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Recently, there have also been reports of children and teenagers being killed and injured during street protests by security officers. Due to the internet shutdown, pressure and intimidation of the victim’s families by intelligence and security officials, accurate statistics are not available.
On October 4, Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO), a non-profit human rights organization based in Norway, reported that at least 154 people had been killed in the nationwide protests across Iran, with an estimated nine children in the death count.
In this report, while condemning the killing of protesters, IHRNGO has considered these killings as “crimes against humanity”:
“According to information from Iran Human Rights, at least 154 people have been killed in the nationwide protests. At least nine are believed to have been under 18 years of age but have not all been verified through documented evidence. Iran Human Rights is working to obtain confirmation of their ages.”
Amnesty International published a statement on Friday, September 30, announcing that it had obtained documents that show that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran had given orders to its forces to “brutally” deal with the protesters.