After the killing of Mahsa— a young girl who was murdered on the street past September by the regime’s security forces and whose death sparked the protest known by their motto “Woman, Life, Freedom”— numerous Iranian people have been imprisoned or killed. Reporting these numbers is always accompanied by an “at least” label because the Islamic Republic never officially announces any statistics. Thus, getting a grasp of these numbers becomes possible via self-reporting of the victims’ families and verifying the reports by human rights organizations. Therefore, I can say that “at least” five-hundred-forty people were killed during these protests, and “at least” sixty-eight of them were under the age of eighteen. Similarly, the number of imprisoned people is unclear. However, I am announcing assertively that more than nineteen-thousand people have been detained so far. Among the detainees, seventy people were sentenced to the death penalty per the announcements of the Ministry of Justice— among these seventy people, one was arrested for singing a few rap songs, and four others have already been executed because of participating in the protests.
The regime’s violence has even spread to hospitals. The security forces actively identify and arrest the wounded protesters from the anti-regime gatherings. In some cases, when the security forces faced resistance from the hospital personnel, they were even arrested. There are even some cases in which the security forces used tear gas at hospitals and clinical settings.
The security forces have sometimes used military-grade ammunition to repress the protesters. However, they have often used shotgun shells that spread a minimum of five metal pellets targeting the protesters’ faces resulting in the enucleation of the eye and blindness. The Iranian society of ophthalmology has joined the protests because of the high number of enucleations of the eyes and blindness, and has issued warnings and reports about the irreversible adverse impacts of these acts on the future well-being of the society. Furthermore, tens of reporters and writers have been charged, arrested, and imprisoned for reporting on the protest events that the regime strives not to share with the public. Among them are two reporters who took a picture of Mahsa’s hospitalization, reported on her funeral, and published them in domestic media. These two reporters are imprisoned for over two months and charged with made-up espionage charges.
Iranian people’s attempts at reforms over the last decades had no tangible outcome. The people of Iran are now demanding a regime change with protesting since September. Their motto is Woman, Life, Freedom. This motto comprises of two significant aspects. One aspect of it negates the existing theocracy in Iran, while its other aspect is a clear vote for a democratic and secular system because this motto only becomes possible under these circumstances.
The human rights violations during the recent protests are too extreme, prompting the United Nations Human Rights Council to pass a quasi-unanimous vote to form a special fact-finding committee about the killings and repressions of the protestors on November 29. Before the announcements of the committee members, the spokesperson of the government of Iran announced in a press conference that Iran’s government would not cooperate with the aforementioned committee. This announcement was highly predictable since Iran’s government has not issued any visas for United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran in the last eleven years.
Iranian people are actively asking democratic countries to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group and impose sanctions on it because of IRGC’s crucial role in repressing the protestors. IRGC is incomparable to the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, whose duty is to protect Iran’s borders. IRGC’s only duty is to protect the regime. So, imposing sanctions on IRGC will weaken the regime and help the Iranian people triumph. Last month, European Parliament designated IRGC as a terrorist organization in response to the prevailing request of the Iranian people.
The “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement began with Iranian women’s initiative and flourished with Iranian men’s support. Iranian men are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iranian women because they have realized the triumph of women is the starting point of democracy.[i]
[i] This article is translated from Farsi/Persian to English by In Media Res editorial team.