There are dozens of underage children among over 400 victims of the ongoing Iran uprising. Their pictures, with their innocent faces, circulate over social media, reflecting the pain regime has inflicted on Iranians.
Sarina Ismailzadeh was a 16-years old aspiring YouTuber. A bright student, full of life and energy, with many dreams to chase and a future ahead. She wanted to have the same life as other teenagers in free countries. She took to the streets to demand her God-given right to liberty. Yet, the regime’s security forces responded by beating her, and she passed away a few days after.
Nika Shakarami is another victim of the regime’s brutality. Videos on social media show her singing with her friends and enjoying her life. She was preparing to celebrate her 17th birthday. But she was arrested, tortured, and killed. The security forces even deprived her mother of the last farewell and secretly buried her.
Nima Shafaghdoust, a 16—years-old boy, was wounded during protests in Urmia, northwest Iran. His family managed to take him home and tend to his wounds. Yet, security forces raided their house, abducted him, and handed his dead body to his grieving parents a few days later.
Dozens of children were brutally massacred on Friday, September 30, in Zahedan, southeastern Iran. These children were going home from the Friday Prayer when the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) opened fire on the crowd, killing at least 82 Baluchi citizens. This bloodbath is known among Iranians as “bloody Friday” and has been condemned by many human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International.
In a statement on October 6, Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: “The Iranian authorities have repeatedly shown utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and will stop at nothing to preserve power. The callous violence being unleashed by Iran’s security forces is not occurring in a vacuum. It is the result of systematic impunity and a lackluster response by the international community.”
Although heart-wrenching, the plight of Sarina, Nika, Nima, and Baluchi’s children, is the last but not the least of the regime killing innocent children.
Hundreds of underage children, mostly supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were arbitrarily arrested and hanged beginning in 1981. Their crime: distributing dissident newspapers, being in possession of the MEK’s statement, or taking part in a peaceful rally.
Mohsen Mohammad Bagher, a child actor, was arrested in 1981 for supporting the MEK, spent the best years of his life in prison, and was hanged during the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran. Mohsen was handicapped but endured years of torture and mistreatment before his death.
It is worth noting that Iran’s ruling theocracy sent hundreds of thousands of school students to the war front during the Iran-Iraq war, using them as canon fodders. These innocent children were brainwashed and sent to sweep minefields.
The clerical regime has continued its appalling abuse of children’s rights in the last few years. Many child offenders have been executed in recent years by the regime in a bid to intimidate the public. The Iranian regime is the only executioner of juvenile offenders in the world today.
In a nutshell, the regime’s brutal killing of underage children is not limited to the recent uprising. The recent killings happen at the height of Iran’s crisis of impunity.
The world community turns a blind eye to and solidifies this impunity, as long it neglects its duty to condemn and punish the regime for its crimes against humanity.
Time is running out; the current uprising is morphing into a revolution. The international community should stand on the right side of history. The only way to end the ongoing impunity in Iran and the regime’s human rights violations is to recognize the Iranian people’s right to resistance and self-defense. Anything less would only enable the regime to continue with its killing spree of innocent people, and more importantly, children, who are yearning to change their future.