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PHR Student Advisory Board Statement on Human Rights Violations in Iran

The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Student Advisory Board (SAB) stands in solidarity with the people of Iran who are calling for the recognition of basic human rights as they protest against arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, sexual violence, and killings of protestors and human rights defenders in Iran. We condemn the action of the Iranian regime forces using excessive, lethal, and indiscriminate forces against protesters, bystanders, and witnesses.

On 13 September 2022, 22 year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Zhina (Mahsa) Amini was arrested in Tehran by Iran’s “morality” police for the “crime” of inappropriately wearing her hijab, a law mandated by the current Islamic regime since its inception in 1979. Eyewitnesses report Amini was violently beaten in a police van. She died three days later after being in the hospital in a coma. The regime states she died from underlying cardiac issues, but this has been refuted by her family who states she was healthy.

Following Amini’s murder, protests, led mainly by Iranian young women and teens, erupted throughout Iran in more than 45 cities, as Iranians filled the streets demanding justice and an end to the current regime. Iranian forces responded with excessive and lethal force. Hadis Najafi, 23, was killed after Iranian forces shot her multiple times while she was protesting. Sarina Esmailzadeh, 16, was beaten to death by Iranian security forces for also protesting. Nika Shakarami, 16, was also killed after burning her headscarf in protest.

On September 30, protesters, bystanders and worshippers endured live ammunition, metal pellets and tear gas during Friday prayers in Zahedan, Sistan, and Baluchistan province, populated by the Baluchi ethnic minority. Amnesty International reports at least 82 protestors were killed. The Center for Human Rights in Iran reports at least 4 people were killed and more than 100 injured during protests in the Kurdish city of Sanadaj on October 9.

The internet has been intentionally restricted multiple times by the regime in attempts to hide the excessive force inflicted upon protestors. A video taken from a cell phone of a witness on the street circulating online shows Darius Alizadeh, lifeless at the wheel, after reportedly being shot by forces for simply just honking in support of the protests. Videos, verified by CNN, show numerous students at Tehran’s Sharif University being shot at, detained and trapped in a parking garage by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps for taking part in protesting. Students also report exposure to gasses that have been banned internationally.

To date, numbers from Human Rights Iran, Reuters, and Human Rights Activists News Agency show there have been 233 confirmed deaths, at least 23 confirmed minors, at least 5,500 arrests, including 147 students and 36 journalists as a result of the crackdowns on the protests. Iranian journalist, Niloofar Hamedi, who broke the news of Mahsa Amini, was arrested, and is still currently being detained in solitary confinement in Iran’s Evan prison, without any charges, as reported by her lawyer to Reuters.

We call on the United Nations Human Rights Council to form an independent investigative and accountability mechanism to document the ongoing human rights violations in Iran and help to hold perpetrators accountable.

PHR is also alarmed by reports of Iranian security forces weaponizing ambulances to attack, detain, and transport demonstrators. PHR urges independent investigations into these practices. PHR calls for the Iranian government to respect and protect the rights of health workers to provide impartial care to all, including injured protestors, without the threat of retaliation or harm.

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