A handful of fleeing protesters were fired upon by Iranian security forces with a machine gun mounted on the back of a pickup truck, a new video shows.
In the clip, which has been verified by the Persian BBC service, shots can be heard as the vehicle chases people in Baneh, Kurdistan province of eastern Iran, signaling that the regime is stepping up its violent crackdown on nationwide protests.
Kurdistan has experienced some of the fiercest repression in the wake of the demonstrations that broke out after a young girl was murdered in the custody of the morality police who detained her for not wearing her hijab correctly.
The death toll from the protests has been put at 201 by the Norway-based Iran Human Rights NGO, although the real number is feared to be much higher.
They also state that 23 of the dead are children, as the country’s Gen-Z teenagers — those born before 2010 — have grown up and are facing up to security forces.
Accurate figures are difficult to verify, as independent media are prohibited from reporting from Iran.
The regime has also disrupted internet services in the country in an effort to suppress accurate coverage of the nightlife, as well as hamper communication and organization by the protesters.
Protesters flee from security forces in Baneh, eastern Iran’s Kurdistan province
The protesters are chased by a pickup truck armed with a machine gun on its back that appears to be firing at them
Iran has been rocked by a month of demonstrations fueled by public outcry over Amini’s death after the vice squad arrested her for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
Night after night, young women and schoolgirls take to the streets with bare hair and raised fists, chanting “Woman, Life, Freedom” and “Death to the Dictator.”
Of the hundreds of Iranian children detained after being entangled in protests, some have even ended up in ‘psychological centers’.
“Iranian Zoomers are frustrated/angry with the status quo and aren’t afraid to speak up online and step outside the red lines” of the Islamic Republic, tweeted Holly Dagres, an Iran specialist at the Atlantic Council think tank.
However, young people involved in the protests have paid with their lives, with US-based human rights organization HRANA citing at least 26 dead children – three of them as young as 12.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Children’s Rights Protection Society said at least 28 had died, including many from the underprivileged province of Sistan-Baluchestan, underscoring the difficulty of getting verified figures out of the country.
It said families were kept “in the dark” about the whereabouts of their children, and their affairs continued without proper legal representation.
Amnesty International said Iran’s “relentless brutal crackdown” was an “all-out attack on child protesters” that claimed the lives of at least 23 minors.
But it is generally believed that the total number of murdered children is much higher.
A crowd of mostly female protesters chants and cheers in Iran as one of them holds up a photo of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died in the custody of Iran’s feared vice squad. More than 200 are believed to have died in the months-long protests
The demonstrations were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, (pictured) a woman who died in the custody of Iran’s feared vice squad
Authorities are carrying out a deadly crackdown on the unrest, with more than 200 protesters feared in the violence, including at least 23 children
Iranian students chant slogans as they protest at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran
Human rights lawyer Hassan Raisi said some arrested children were being held in detention centers for adult drug offenders.
“This is very worrying,” he was quoted as saying by the London-based news website Iran Wire.
Anyone under the age of 18 should never be detained with a criminal over the age of 18… This is a legal requirement, not a recommendation.
“About 300 people between the ages of 12-13 and 18-19 are in police custody,” he said, without elaborating.
Among the victims of the protests are Nika Shahkarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh – 16-year-old girls whose deaths caused an outburst of grief in Iran and around the world.
Protesting children have also been arrested in classrooms, Iranian Education Minister Yousef Nouri said.
“There aren’t that many,” he told Shargh newspaper in response to a question about the number of schoolchildren arrested. “I can’t give an exact number.”
Nouri said the detainees were being held in ‘psychological centers’.
The goal, he said, was “correction and rehabilitation” to prevent them from becoming “antisocial figures.”
Protesters set fire to and block street during September 21 protests
Iran’s Teachers’ Union criticized the minister in a statement saying it strongly condemns “these unwise actions that will lead to educational centers becoming like military camps.”
The teachers called on ‘all involved, including the inappropriate education minister, to quickly release the detained protesting students and colleagues of ours who have been arrested for supporting the protests’.
The UN children’s organization UNICEF said this week it was “extremely concerned” about reports of “children and adolescents being killed, injured and detained” in Iran.
Despite the crackdown and blockades on smartphone apps popular among Iranian teens, such as Instagram and TikTok, internet-conscious youths have still managed to release videos of their protests.
They have also adopted new tactics for the street.
Those heading to protests wear masks, leave phones to avoid being tracked, and bring extra clothes to put on if they are marked by paintballs that the security forces deploy to identify them later.
The deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Fadavi, told Iranian media on Oct. 5 that the “average age of detainees in many of the recent protests was 15.”
“Some of the teens and young adults arrested used similar key phrases in their confessions, such as comparing street riots to video games,” he told Mehr news agency.
Concerns about the influence of video games have also been raised by other officials.
Cleric Aboulfazl Ahmadi, head of a provincial organization linked to the vice squad, said Iran’s enemies “are targeting the country’s teenagers” and that “some video games are designed to get the youth out on the streets in times like these.” ‘.