Deaths of children ‘must stop’ in Iran, says UNICEF, as protests continue

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Deaths of children 'must stop' in Iran, says UNICEF, as protests continue
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CNN

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said it remained deeply concerned by reports of children being killed, injured and detained in Iran, it said in a statement on Friday, adding that child deaths reported in anti-government protests “must stop”. .”

“An estimated 50 children are believed to have lost their lives in the public unrest in Iran,” UNICEF said in the statement.

It comes as unrest in Iran has continued for more than two months and amid growing calls from protesters and online activists for UNICEF, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations to act against human rights violations and crimes against children flying in Iran.

Many tell CNN they feel their voice has not been heard. “They’re just saying, hey, Islamic Republic, what are you doing is wrong,” a protester in Iran told CNN. “Yes, everyone knows it’s bad. Three-year-olds know it’s wrong, but we need real action. Do something. I do not know. I think they know better than us what they can do.

“In Iran, UNICEF remains deeply concerned by reports of children being killed, injured and detained,” the statement said, citing the death of a young boy named Kian Pirfalak, one of seven people killed in the Wednesday protests in the southwestern city of Izeh. . “It’s terrifying and it must stop,” the organization added.

UNICEF said Pirfalak was 10 years old. Iranian state media reported that he was nine years old.

The child was traveling in a car on Wednesday with his family when he was shot dead and his father was shot and injured, his mother told state media in an interview with Tasnim on Friday.

According to Iran’s ISNA news agency, protesters set fire to a seminary around the same time people were shot dead in Izeh in what state media called a “terrorist attack”.

Activists accuse the Iranian regime of killing Kian and others in Izeh.

The Islamic Republic is facing one of the largest and most unprecedented demonstrations of dissent in recent history after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman detained by vice squad allegedly for not wearing properly her hijab.

At least 378 people have been killed since the protests began, an Iranian human rights group says, as the country’s supreme leader has issued a warning that the protest movement is ‘doomed’ “.

Iran Human Rights released the estimated death toll on Saturday, adding that it includes 47 children killed by security forces.

CNN cannot independently verify arrest figures, death tolls and many accounts of those killed due to the Iranian government’s suppression of independent media and internet shutdowns that reduce the transparency of reporting on the ground. The media also cannot directly access the government for their reporting on such cases, unless there are reports in state media, the government spokesman.

Video shared by activist group 1500 Tasvir and others showed a large crowd gathered for Pirfalak’s funeral in his hometown of Izeh on Friday.

Surrounded by mourners, her mother Zeynab Molaeirad is heard singing a children’s song, replacing the lyrics with lyrics against Ayatollah Khamenei and the regime. She then reveals new details about the fatal incident, according to a video shared on social media.

“Hear from my mouth what really happened to Kian,” she told the crowd, “So the regime is not lying and saying he was a terrorist.”

Molaeirad, who was traveling with his family in their car, said people on the street yelled at the vehicle to turn around and his son told his father not to worry.

“Kian said, ‘Baba trust the police for once and turn around, they’re watching over us,’” she said.

Her father turned around and walked towards the police, her mother said. But “because the car windows were up, the police thought maybe we wanted to shoot them,” she said.

“They opened a barrage of fire on the car.”

Kian’s mother also posted a photo with her son in her Instagram post. “My broken flower. Curse on the Islamic Republic,” she wrote.

Human rights groups have accused Iranian authorities of scaring the families of the victims into silence. Iranian authorities “systematically harass and intimidate the families of the victims to hide the truth” about their deaths, as Amnesty International’s Heba Morayef said in a recent report.

The UN said on Friday it was “deeply concerned about the growing violence linked to the ongoing popular protests in Iran”, said the deputy spokesman for the UN secretary general, Farhan Haq.

“We condemn all incidents that have resulted in death or serious injury, including the shooting in the city of Izeh on November 16, 2022. We are also concerned about the death sentence that has reportedly been handed down to five anonymous people in connection with the latest protests,” Haq said.

Haq urged Iranian authorities to respect international human rights law and to avoid excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.

Despite condemnation from the UN, Iranians have been highly critical of the world body and its agencies, saying its words are not enough and there is a lack of action against human rights violations. human rights in Iran.

Stories like Parfalik’s “have led Iranians inside and outside the country to really demand justice asking what UNICEF is doing on the ground to stop this,” the Iranian-American lawyer said. of human rights Gissou Nia in an interview with CNN’s Isa Soares on Friday.

Nia, who is also director of the strategic litigation project at the Atlantic Council, went on to say that the United Nations Human Rights Council was meeting in Geneva on Thursday in a special session to address “the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran”. ”

“The outcome of this extraordinary session will probably be an investigative mechanism or some kind of independent body that can collect, preserve and analyze evidence of what is happening here for accountability purposes,” Nia said.

“What would be absolutely shameful is for this 47-member body to vote no” to the creation of such a mechanism, she added.

Cnn

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