March 16, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iranians Renew Protests as Regime Brutality Persists

March 16, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iranians Renew Protests as Regime Brutality Persists

Latest Developments

Iranians renewed protests against Tehran’s clerical regime this week to mark the country’s traditional fire festival, a celebration with Zoroastrian roots linked to the Persian new year. Meanwhile, Iran International reported today that Iran’s parliament “is planning a raft of new repressive measures in further crackdowns on hijab rebels, including increased surveillance and cutting access to social services.” New reports of torture by the regime against protesters have also emerged, reflecting Tehran’s ruthless determination to stymie the unrest. Iranian security forces have killed more than 520 protesters and arrested some 22,000 since the latest round of demonstrations began in September 2022.

Expert Analysis

“After six months of protests, the courageous Iranian people have shown that the regime’s brutality will not deter them from demanding their rights. The Biden administration should unequivocally endorse their calls for regime change and snap back UN sanctions on Iran. There can be no negotiating with a regime that murders its own people in the streets.” Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor

Torturing Child Protesters

A human rights group reported today that Tehran’s “intelligence and security forces have been committing horrific acts of torture, including beatings, flogging, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence against child protesters as young as 12 to quell their involvement in nationwide protests.” The torture often aimed to elicit forced confessions. One boy recalled, “I was forced to say what they wanted because they raped me with a hosepipe. They were taking my hand and forcibly making me fingerprint the papers.”

Blinding Demonstrators

Iranian security forces often deliberately fire at the eyes of protesters in order to blind them and deter further demonstrations. According to a comprehensive report by IranWire released on Tuesday, at least 580 Iranians, including children, have lost one or both eyes during protests. In one case in November, five-year-old Benita Kiani Flavarjani lost an eye after police fired some 20 metal pellets at her head.

Journalists Behind Bars

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Iranian affiliate, the Tehran Province Journalists Association (TPJA), called on Tehran today to release the 15 Iranian journalists currently in prison for covering the protests. “While the arrests continue,” IFJ and TPJA stated, “the sentences are raining down on those on trial, with extremely heavy penalties ranging from one year to 18 years in prison. Other sentences include community service, lashes, exit restrictions and bans on working as a journalist.” The organizations also condemned Iran’s continued censorship of reformist media and internet shutdowns.

Related Analysis

How Iran’s Regime Is Threatened by Its Clerics,” by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh

Iran’s Rial Drops to Record Low Against Dollar as Protests Persist,” FDD Flash Brief

Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz


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