May 22, 2024

United Nations investigators say Iranian authorities killed, tortured and raped women, men and children in a brutal repression of mass protests that erupted over the death in police custody of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly wearing a mandatory hijab incorrectly.

A U.N. fact-finding mission reporting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva cited as credible estimates that 551 people were killed by security forces, most of them by gunfire, as part of a widespread and systematic crackdown on the protests, which were mostly led by women. The casualties included at least 49 women and 68 children.

“Many of the serious human rights violations outlined in the present report amount to crimes against humanity, specifically those of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts, that have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population,” the mission states in the report. The Human Rights Council will discuss the report next week.

The use of lethal force during largely peaceful protests was unlawful and the deaths amounted to extrajudicial executions, the investigators said. But they also reported that the authorities had summarily executed at least nine young men after cursory trials on charges linked to the protests and that several people had died in custody as a result of torture.

The report also contained findings on Ms. Amini, 22. Iranian authorities claimed that a government investigation into Ms. Amini’s death concluded it was caused by underlying medical issues. The U.N.’s investigators flatly rejected that finding.

“The mission is satisfied that Ms. Amini was subjected to physical violence that led to her death,” it said, drawing attention to evidence of trauma inflicted on her body while in police custody. “On that basis, the state bears responsibility for her unlawful death.”

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