Reports of torture and unfair trials in Iran trigger fresh alarm over the fate of protesters

(Bloomberg) — Rights groups have warned that several young people, including teenagers who have been jailed by Iran for their involvement in anti-government protests, risk being executed and tortured.

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In a statement, London-based Amnesty International urged Iran to immediately cancel the death sentences for three protesters – aged 18, 19 and 31 – charged with at least two capital offenses each after hearings that are last less than an hour.

In mid-September, widespread demonstrations erupted against the Islamic Republic’s leadership over the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman. She collapsed in a police station after being arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s strict women’s dress code.

Iran has been condemned by many countries for its use of violence and executions to put down the protests, which were largely led by women and youth and posed a major challenge to the hardline clerical leadership.

Arshia Takdastan, Mehdi Mohammadifard and Javad Rouhi are each charged with “inciting arson or vandalism by dancing, clapping, singing or throwing handkerchiefs into bonfires” during protests in a city in northern Iran on Sept. 21, according to Amnesty.

The men were subjected to “floggings, electric shocks, hanging upside down and death threats at gunpoint” by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to extract confessions, Amnesty said, citing “informed sources on the ground”. .

In its statement, Amnesty added that one of the men had been raped and another sexually tortured in detention. Rouhi was also charged with a third capital offense of apostasy after being accused of burning a copy of the Quran.

The activists also called for the release of 21-year-old Armita Abbasi, who was arrested in October after criticizing the Islamic Republic in social media posts and is due to stand trial on Sunday. According to a Nov. 21 report by CNN, which cites interviews with unnamed doctors in Iran, she was repeatedly raped in detention and needed treatment in hospital for severe bleeding.

Iranian state media have denied the reports.

According to the BBC, Abbasi’s father confirmed in an Instagram post on Saturday that she will be represented by a court-approved lawyer after her original lawyer resigned from his post because he was barred from meeting her.

Abbasi is being held in a prison near the city of Karaj on the western outskirts of Tehran. The Oslo-based news agency for human rights activists reported on 6 January that he had joined a gang hunger strike involving 14 other female detainees.

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