As the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and the commencement of the popular uprising in Iran approaches, a retrospective of the past year illuminates the grave crimes and oppression committed by the regime against its own people.
Each page of the 2022 calendar serves as a somber reminder of those who lost their lives in the uprising, a movement predominantly led by teenagers and youth. Over the course of this year, the regime garnered international notoriety as its actions earned it the label of a ‘child killer’ in the eyes of global public opinion.
According to human rights organizations’ statistics, the initial three months of the 2022 uprising saw 71 children and teenagers added to the list of victims of the systematic brutality perpetuated by the Islamic Republic against the Iranian populace.
Among these young victims were a two-year-old child named Mirshekar and eight-year-old Hasti Naroi, both tragically lost on the bloodshed-ridden Friday in Zahedan. Additionally, seven-year-old Diana Mahmoudi in Piranshahr, eight-year-old Mona Naqib in Saravan City, and nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak in Izeh City are forever etched as the youngest casualties of this heartbreaking uprising.
Throughout this uprising, various regions spanning Sistan and Baluchistan, West Azerbaijan, Zanjan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyar Ahmad, Tehran, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Gilan, Alborz, Ardabil, Khuzestan, as well as cities like Oshnavieh, Zanjan, Dehdasht, Zahedan, Khash, Urmia, Tehran, Shahriar, Sanandaj, Piranshahr, Saravan, Bandar Anzali, Hashtgerd, Islamabad Gharb, Karaj, Kermanshah, Ardabil, Izeh, and Saqqez, all bore witness to the tragic loss of young lives. Teenagers were the receiving end of brutal beatings, live fire, bullets, and various methods employed by security and repressive forces of the regime, and they paid the ultimate price.
Amid this turmoil, the names Nika Shakarami, Sarina Esmailzadeh, Abolfazl Adinezadeh, Arnica Ghaemmaqami, Omid Naroi, Karun Qaderi, Nima Shafaqdoost, Kian Pirfalak, and numerous others became emblematic of the fierce struggle for freedom undertaken by Iran’s youth.
However, the regime’s confrontation with children and teenagers during Iran’s popular uprising extended beyond the streets. As protests permeated schools, particularly girls’ schools, the regime dispatched its repressive forces to apprehend students, showcasing an inhumane display that encompassed threats, abductions, beatings, and injuries.
The circulation of images depicting repressive forces storming girls’ schools due to protests against the mandatory hijab, juxtaposed with students defying the enforced dress code and voicing anti-regime slogans within the school premises, led to the release of videos in social media. This, in turn, triggered a fresh wave of intimidation, manifesting itself as a disturbing new tactic: the poisoning of girls’ schools.
Numerous pieces of evidence have been brought to light in the media, pointing to staunch supporters of Velayat-e-Faqih being at the forefront of those implicated in these reprehensible actions.
In conclusion, a distressing total of at least 800 female students fell victim to a series of poisoning incidents. However, the regime’s response has been far from transparent. Instead of addressing the issue head-on, the regime resorted to accusing the students and even some of their parents of involvement in these distressing cases.
Further deepening the suspicion of a potential link between these poisonings and the student protests of 2022 is the fact that some of the vanguard schools involved in the uprising appear on the list of the initial educational institutions where poisonings were reported.
The animosity of the regime toward teenagers and children persisted even after their tragic deaths. During the past months, security forces sought to obscure the crimes committed in the previous year by obstructing the commemoration of the victims’ birthdays, desecrating their graves, coercing the families of the deceased children, and resorting to the arrest and intimidation of their family members and loved ones.
The extensive apprehension of teenagers throughout the course of the uprising represents another facet of the strategy aimed at silencing the voices of dissent within a generation that, until now, the regime believed it had indoctrinated in alignment with its interests and through propaganda campaigns.
Considering the escalating number of arrests up to the end of 2022, it becomes evident that the focal point of the protests during that year were predominantly young individuals.
Those who were eventually released, often after enduring physical torture, abuse, and coerced consumption of undisclosed substances while incarcerated, attested that the most intense forms of pressure were exerted upon detained teenagers and young adults, particularly those whose identities were concealed.
The veracity of these claims is lent credence by instances of suicide among certain teenagers and young adults shortly after their release, seemingly under the weight of the mental and physical strain they endured or under the influence of chemical substances forcibly injected into their veins.
The robust presence of teenagers on the streets of Iran since the beginning of the popular uprising has prompted a reaction from senior government officials.
The persistent alerts issued by military and security forces regarding the potential resurgence of protests on the anniversary of the uprising’s commencement extend beyond political figures, journalists, civil dissidents, and students.
What has particularly unnerved the regime is the impending beginning of the school year, indicating the possibility of renewed activism among the youth.
Hence, as school reopening approaches, the regime has not relented in its endeavors to quell the spirit of teenagers and children. The current focus on the Hijab and Chastity Bill, which has now become its primary instrument in its conflict with Iranian women, distinctly underscores the regime’s apprehension regarding potential acts of civil disobedience by students.
As September 23rd draws near, the regime is confronted with a significant challenge posed by teenagers and students. Primarily, the approaching anniversary of the slain teenagers is imminent, with one of their anniversaries occurring each day for several months.
Despite the regime’s demonstration of its willingness to engage in acts of violence against teenagers, this highlights the regime’s struggle with issues of legitimacy and its conflict with the youth.