Torture cases and unfair trials in Iran raise new alarm over the plight 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, are at risk of execution and have been tortured.

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In a statement, London-based Amnesty International urged Iran to immediately quash the death sentences of three protesters – aged 18, 19 and 31 – charged with at least two capital crimes each after hearings that took lasted less than an hour.

Widespread protests against the leaders of the Islamic Republic erupted in mid-September following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurd. She collapsed in a police station after being arrested for allegedly flouting Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Iran has been condemned by many countries for its use of violence and executions to quell the protests, which have been largely led by women and young people and have presented a major challenge to extremist religious leaders.

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

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

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

Activists have also called for the release of Armita Abbasi, 21, 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 CNN report, citing interviews with unnamed Iranian doctors, she was repeatedly raped in custody and required hospital treatment for severe bleeding.

Iranian state media denied the reports.

According to the BBC, Abbasi’s father confirmed in an Instagram post on Saturday that she would be represented by a court-approved lawyer after her original lawyer resigned because he had not been allowed to meet her.

Abbasi is being held in a prison near the city of Karaj, on the western outskirts of Tehran. The Oslo-based Human Rights Activists news agency reported on January 6 that she had joined a collective hunger strike involving 14 other female detainees.

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