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Protest against the Iranian regime. The picture shows a burning police motorcycle. Tehran, September 19, 2022

Protests continue in Iran for more than two months after the death of a 22-year-old Mahsy Amini. Over this time were killed at least 378 protesters, more people were injured. About 15 thousand people were arrested. Many of them are still in prisons and police stations, where they are subjected to ill-treatment. CNN journalists talked with one of the detainees, a 20-year-old girl who participated in the protests. She spoke about sexualized violence in police stations.

A girl of Kurdish origin Khana (according to CNN, the name was changed for security reasons) after being detained was taken to a police station in the city of Urmia in northwestern Iran. She said that she was a witness and victim of sexualized violence. At the same time, she spent only one day in the isolation ward.

On the eve of Khana’s detention, her mother received a phone call from an acquaintance, a high-ranking employee of the administration of the prison in the city of Mahabad. He urged the woman “under no circumstances” to let her daughters out of the house, so that they would not be detained for participating in the protests, since women are “treated very badly” in Iranian prisons.

Despite the warning, Hana joined the protests and, like many other women, publicly burned her hijab. The police told her that this moment allegedly fell on the recording from the surveillance camera, thereby creating the basis for her detention.

Khana was taken to the police station, where 30-40 other women were with her, as well as teenagers aged 13-14, who were severely beaten by police officers. “But it was the girls who had it the worst because they were sexually abused,” Hana said.

The cellmates told her about the rapes that were subjected to in the station, and Hana herself witnessed how one of the detained teenagers tried to stand up for his sister, whom the police were about to take to the interrogation room. The police beat him with batons, while his sister screamed in the next room. Hana is sure that the woman was raped.

Hana herself was also abused. She said that a police officer locked her in an interrogation room, where he attacked her, promising her freedom in exchange for sex. The CNN publication says that during her interview with reporters, a bruise was visible on the girl’s neck, left after the police attack.

According to Hana, people do not know much about what is happening in Iranian prisons and detention centers, as police officers intimidate women: “They will threaten to [женщина] They didn’t talk about what happened to her, so that she wouldn’t tell who did this to her, who insulted her, who subjected her to violence.”

Khana was rescued from prison by her father, and she managed to escape from Iran. Together with her uncle’s family, she walked the mountain paths for several days, following a group of Kurdish smugglers. According to CNN, Iranian border guards open fire on those who try to illegally leave the country.

Despite everything that has happened, Hana is sure that she is much more fortunate than others. Many detainees disappear “in Iran’s confusing prison system,” writes CNN. “There were girls who were sexually abused and then taken to other cities,” Hana explained. Human rights activists told CNN that hundreds of people have disappeared without a trace in Iran in recent years.

One of the missing is 20-year-old Armita Abbasi. Since the protests began, she has posted anti-government posts on social media, though it remains unknown if she was directly involved in street protests. However, the police detained the girl, accusing her of allegedly leading these protests. Authorities say police found 10 Molotov cocktails during a search of Abbasi’s apartment.

On October 17, plainclothes police officers took Armita Abbasi to a hospital in Kerej, a suburb of Tehran, with a severe rectal injury. The girl had a shaved head. The doctors said that she was very scared and was shaking all over.

The police prevented hospital staff from talking to Armita and forced doctors to document that the rape had taken place prior to her arrest. When her story became public, the police took the girl away from the hospital. According to the authorities, she was transferred to a local prison, but there is no independent confirmation of this information.

CNN journalists contacted the hospital to get a comment about what happened, but they were told that there were no records of Armita Abbasi left.

How and why protests continue in Iran


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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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