Tehran, Oct 23 (EFE).- Children arrested during rallies that have swept Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini have been freed, the government said Sunday, amid urges to stop a violent crackdown against young protesters.
“We no longer have prisoners under age 18. All of them have been released,” Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs Ensieh Khazali said, according to local media.
Khazali gave no further details about the number of minors detained since the protests broke out following the death of Amini in police custody on September 16. The morality police had arrested the 22-year-old for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code.
During the youthful protests, women and girls shouted anti-government slogans, burned their headscarves and even cut their hair in a powerful act of defiance.
School students have joined the protests in the past few weeks, twirling their hijabs and tearing photos of the country’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
Hardly any information is available about the number of those detained and killed during the unrest gripping the country but Iranian lawmaker Alireza Beigi said recently that 3,000 people had been arrested in Tehran alone, including 200 university students and 200 pupils.
Those 200 pupils have been released on bail, along with most of those arrested, according to Beigi.
The semi-official Fars news agency, which has ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, estimated recently that 41.8% of the detainees are under age 20, 48.2% are aged between 20 and 35 and 10% are over 35.
The ill-treatment of minors taking part in the protests has been criticized by human rights groups.
Amnesty International said that security forces had killed at least 23 children during the month of September only, in an “attempt to crush the spirit of resistance among the country’s courageous youth.”
The victims included an 11-year-old boy, who died from gunshot wounds.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), meanwhile, condemned the Iranian authorities’ use of violence against minors in protests.
Some of the children who perished have become symbols of the nationwide protests such as Nika Shakarami, 17, and Sarina Esmailzadeh, 16.
Iran’s ministry of education pointed out a few days ago that an unknown number of children had been transferred to psychological treatment centers after being detained in anti-government protests.
The government has violently cracked down on the anti-regime protests that left at least 108 people dead, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights NGO. EFE