The Iranian security forces have been systematically aiming at the eyes of protesters in its crackdown on protests that have swept the country since September, a human rights group said on Friday.
Norway-based Iran Human Rights said initial data indicated that young women were disproportionately represented among those who had suffered such injuries.
Earlier this week, a Tehran newspaper asked a senior police commander whether security forces had been targeting eyes and other sensitive areas. He insisted on his good behavior.
IHR said the protesters had received head and face shotscausing “many, including a significant number of young women, They will go blind.”
He said this “inhumane and illegal act” had been “carried out systematically to crush the protests”.
IHR said it had documented 22 cases of people blinded in one eye as a result of fire from security forces, nine of them women.
The youngest injured person, Pretty Kiani Falavarjaniof only six yearsfrom the city of Isfahan, was shot and blinded in one eye while standing on her grandfather’s balcony, she said.
In a high-profile case, Kosar Khoshnoudikiaa member of Iran’s national archery team, was blinded in one eye after a protest in December in the city of Kermanshah.
“We don’t have enough data yet, but I have the impression that young girls are overrepresented among those whose eyes are attacked,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam.
When asked if the security forces were aiming for the eyes, the commander of the special police, Hassan Karami, told the newspaper Hamshahri that “not harming the protesting population” was a priority for the police forces.
“I have so much faith in the ability of the special police units that I have said many times that I will offer a reward to anyone who can prove that someone died as a result of a mistake by our personnel,” he said.
According to IHR, security forces killed at least 488 people during the crackdown on protests that erupted in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for allegedly violating the country’s women’s dress code.
(With information from AFP)
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