The number of women killed in any confrontation bespeaks of their greater participation and active role in that battle. More than 400 women were among the 1,500 killed by government forces during the November 2019 protests in Iran. Suddenly erupting in upwards of 200 cities in 29 of the country’s 31 provinces, the uprising itself was the most stunning moment of Iran’s contemporary history.
A member of the mullahs’ parliament from Karaj said at least 719 locations across Iran were involved in the protests.
The protests took shape very rapidly, quickly radicalized against the mullahs’ leader Ali Khamenei, and targeted hundreds of military and government centers. Young people were the nucleus of the protests and women played an effective role as vanguards and leaders of the uprising, as acknowledged by the regime’s media.
1,500 including 400 women killed
The Iranian Resistance managed to collect and publish the names of 828 of those killed by security forces during the November 2019 uprising. However, the clerical regime has continued to refuse to announce the names and number of those killed.
On December 23, 2019, Reuters cited the Iranian regime’s Interior Ministry officials confirming that 400 women and 17 juveniles were among the 1,500 protesters killed during the November uprising.
The slain women included the 14-year-old Nikta Esfandani to the 59-year-old Mina Sheikhi, mother of six. They included students, government employees, and nurses. This is evidence of both the regime’s atrocities as well as women’s extensive participation in the protests.
The mullahs’ security forces were so ruthless that they even killed little children including the 3-year-old Hosna Bameri and another little girl by the name of Chan’ani in Mahshahr.
12,000 arrested and brutalized in jails
The Iranian Resistance put the number of those arrested at at least 12,000.
The spokesman for the parliamentary National Security Committee announced on November 25 that 7,000 protesters had been arrested.
The Iranian Resistance obtained documents over the past year of those wounded in the protests and taken to hospitals by ambulances of Tehran’s Emergency. The wounded also included women ranging in age from 18 to 60 years old, brutalized or shot in the head, in arms, hands, thighs, and in the torso.
There have been numerous reports of ill-treatment against those arrested, including with the apparent aim of extracting forced confessions. The Iranian state television broadcast forced “confessions” by some detainees alleged to be protest leaders or affiliated with anti-government groups. The arrested protesters did not have access to a lawyer and were deprived of due process.
Amnesty International verifies “torture epidemic“
Amnesty International published a shocking report on September 2, 2020, verifying the use of “widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care.”
AI also noted that “hundreds (were) subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges” and “death sentences (were) issued based on torture-tainted ‘confessions.’”
The organization’s research involved in-depth interviews with 60 victims of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment or their relatives or close acquaintances; two protesters who were in hiding; and 14 other informed individuals; information received through written messages from several hundred others inside the country and analysis of video footage, official statements and court documents.
Amnesty International’s damning report said “Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of shocking human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, against those detained in connection with the nationwide protests of November 2019”.
The report, Trampling humanity: Mass arrests, disappearances and torture since Iran’s 2019 November protests, documents the harrowing accounts of dozens of protesters, bystanders and others who were violently arrested, forcibly disappeared or held incommunicado, systemically denied access to their lawyers during interrogations, and repeatedly tortured to “confess”. They are among the 7,000 men, women and children arrested by the Iranian authorities within a matter of days during their brutal repression of the protests.
Victims include children as young as 10 and injured protesters and bystanders arrested from hospitals while seeking medical care for gunshot wounds, as well as human rights defenders including minority rights activists, journalists, and individuals who attended ceremonies to commemorate those killed during the protests. Hundreds have since been sentenced to prison terms and flogging and several to the death penalty following grossly unfair trials which were presided over by biased judges behind closed doors, frequently lasted less than an hour, and systematically relied on torture-tainted “confessions”.
“In the days following the mass protests, videos showing Iran’s security forces deliberately killing and injuring unarmed protesters and bystanders sent shockwaves around the world. Much less visible has been the catalogue of cruelty meted out to detainees and their families by Iranian officials away from the public eye,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The organization’s research found that victims were frequently hooded or blindfolded; punched, kicked and flogged; beaten with sticks, rubber hosepipes, knives, batons and cables; suspended or forced into holding painful stress positions for prolonged periods; deprived of sufficient food and potable water; placed in prolonged solitary confinement, sometimes for weeks or even months; and denied medical care for injuries sustained during the protests or as a result of torture.
Other documented methods of torture included stripping detainees and spraying them with cold water, and subjecting detainees to extreme temperatures and/or bombardment of light or sound; forcible extraction of the nails from fingers or toes; pepper spraying; forced administration of chemical substances; using electric shocks; waterboarding; and mock executions.
What must the international community do?
No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo.
The November 2019 uprising and its social and political ramifications have been moving like a powerful tide throughout the past year.
The November 2019 uprising put on display the ongoing conflict between the Iranian people and the ruling theocracy. That conflict has become much more intense and widespread. The regime is clearly fearful and on its last leg.
The time has come for the international community and world governments to stand by the women and people of Iran and not their torturers and murderers.