Amnesty International says it has evidence that at least 23 children were killed by Iranian security forces when they “unlawfully used lethal force to crush” nationwide anti-government protests in November 2019.
An investigation by the London-based human rights watchdog has uncovered that at least 22 of the children were shot dead by security forces “firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters and bystanders,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the findings, the children killed include 22 boys aged between 12 and 17, and a girl reportedly aged between eight and 12.
Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, called for “independent and impartial” investigations into the killings and for the prosecution of those suspected of ordering and carrying them out.
Member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council should also mandate an inquiry into the killings of protesters and bystanders, including the 23 children, in the November protests, according to Luther.
Protests erupted in Iran on Nov. 15, 2019, following a government decision to raise fuel prices.
According to Amnesty International, at least 304 people were killed and thousands injured over the next days as authorities crushed the protests. Authorities “arbitrarily” detained thousands of people and subjected some to enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill-treatment.
In its latest statement, Amnesty International said the 23 children are recorded as having been killed in 13 cities in six provinces across Iran -- Esfahan, Fars, Kermanshah, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, and Tehran -- reflecting the “widespread nature of the bloody crackdown.”
The vast majority of the children’s deaths, 20, took place over just two days -- November 16 and 17 -- which Luther said is “further evidence that Iranian security forces went on a killing spree to quash dissent at any cost.” The remaining three deaths took place on Nov. 18.
Amnesty International said it had gathered evidence from videos and photographs, death and burial certificates, accounts from eyewitnesses and victims’ relatives, friends, and acquaintances on the ground, as well as information gathered from human rights activists and journalists.