Home iran HRW: State Forces Raped, Tortured Detainees Amid Iran’s 2022 Protests

HRW: State Forces Raped, Tortured Detainees Amid Iran’s 2022 Protests


Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a new report revealing instances of rape, torture, and sexual assault by Iranian state security forces against detainees during nationwide protests in 2022.

The findings, according to human rights experts, underscore the systematic use of torture and rape by authorities, exposing a troubling pattern of abuse aimed at suppressing dissent.

The Woman, Life, Freedom uprising in Iran was a nationwide protest movement that started in September 2022, following the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman while in the custody of the regime’s so-called “morality police”.

The protests persisted until at least January 2023 with over 500 protesters killed at the hands of state security forces, and over 19,400 protestors arrested as per reports by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

HRW’s investigation focused on violations against 10 prisoners detained amid the protests.

Between September and November 2022, the detainees from Kurdish, Baloch, and Azeri minorities endured grave abuses at the hands of Iranian security forces.

Police arrive to disperse demonstrators during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022.

The victims, which included women, men, and children, provided HRW with testimonies of their experiences, recounting instances of torture and sexual assault inflicted upon them and other prisoners.

“Iranian security forces’ brutality against detained protesters, including rape and torture, are not only egregious crimes but a weapon of injustice wielded against detainees to coerce them into false confessions,” said Nahid Naghshbandi, acting Iran researcher at HRW.

Naghshbandi also highlighted the systematic targeting of ethnic minorities in Iran, noting that the regime’s use of rape and torture to further marginalize these communities.

Among the testimonies, a Kurdish woman revealed how she was raped by male security forces while their female colleague facilitated the assault in November 2022.

Another victim, a 24-year-old Kurdish man from West Azerbaijan province, described being tortured and raped with a baton after his arrest.

A 30-year-old man from East Azerbaijan Province told HRW how he and other protesters were subjected to gang rape by security forces in October 2022.

The report also brings attention to cases of suicide and severe physical trauma resulting from the sexual violence committed by the state’s security officers. One woman is said to have taken her own life due to the emotional trauma inflicted upon her, while another required surgery to address injuries sustained during the assaults.

Emphasizing the urgent need for support and justice for survivors, Naghshbandi, stated that “accounts of brutal rape and the lasting traumatic consequences of those crimes should mobilize countries to meet the physical and psychological health needs of survivors who have managed to flee Iran…”

In response to HRW’s findings, in an interview with Iran International, Mahmoud Amiri-Moghadam, director of Iran Human Rights, condemned the systematic use of torture and rape by various institutions of the Iranian regime, asserting that such atrocities must not go unpunished.

He underscored the importance of international awareness and accountability, urging the UN to take action against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

This latest report from HRW adds to a growing body of evidence documenting the widespread abuse of detainees by Iranian authorities.

Previous investigations by Amnesty International and the UN Fact-Finding Mission have similarly exposed the brutal tactics employed by Iranian authorities to suppress dissent.