The top US diplomat for Iran highlighted a CNN investigation into sexual violence that revealed sexual assaults on activists and activists, calling the reports “unspeakable”.
Robert Malley, the US special envoy to Iran, said the regime would not succeed in its efforts to crush the protests that have spread across the country in the past two months.
The US Special Envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, wrote on Thursday tweet About the CNN investigation. “It is a reminder of what is at stake for the Iranian people – and how far the regime will go in its futile attempt to silence dissent.”
Iran has been wracked by anti-regime protests since the death in September of 22-year-old Mohsa Amini, who was detained by the country’s morality police apparently for not wearing a headscarf properly.
In a CNN investigation, published Monday, confidential testimony revealed sexual violence against protesters, including boys, in Iranian detention centers since the unrest began.
CNN went to the area near Iraq’s border with Iran, interviewing eyewitnesses who left the country and checking accounts of survivors and sources inside and outside Iran. CNN confirmed several reports of sexual violence against protesters and heard many other accounts.
At least one of them caused serious injury, and another caused the rape of an underage boy. In some of the cases exposed by CNN, the sexual assault was filmed and used to blackmail protesters into silenceing them, according to sources who spoke to the victims.
Malley led a US negotiating team to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — which former President Donald Trump quit — for nearly two years. The deal would see Iran restrict its uranium enrichment program in return for sanctions relief.
Iran’s violent crackdown on the demonstrators stalled the talks. In October, Mali said the US would not “waste our time” on the nuclear deal “if nothing happens”.
He said the United States remains committed to diplomacy to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, but has shifted its attention away from efforts related to the nuclear deal amid sweeping protests in Iran and the transfer of weapons from Tehran to Moscow for the war in Ukraine.
The special envoy’s comments reflected how stagnant the talks to restore the nuclear deal have become — talks that only months ago the United States and its allies believed had reached a breakthrough. The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday that Iran has enriched up to 60% at the underground Fordo nuclear facility.
In the past week, more than 40 people have died, including at least two children, as protests have erupted in Iran, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR). The country’s Kurdish regions bore the brunt of the crackdown, with videos on social media showing a massive deployment of Iranian military forces in the Kurdish cities of Javanrud and Saqez. A video clip also showed security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators with live ammunition.
UN Human Rights Coordinator Volker Türk said the rising death toll highlights the regime’s intensified crackdown on protesters and the “critical situation in the country”. According to the United Nations, more than 300 people have been killed since the protests began in mid-September.
According to the UN Center for Human Rights, more than 40 children have been killed since the protests began in September, including two 16-year-old boys who died over the weekend. In a statement, it also addressed a campaign of repression against prominent Iranian figures, including celebrities and athletes.
The two Iranian artists, Hengamih Ghaziani and Katayon Riahi, were arrested on Sunday for expressing their support for the protest movement on the Internet.
In another sign of growing discontent in Iran, the national soccer team did not sing the national anthem at the start of their World Cup match with England on Monday.
The UN agency reminded the Iranian authorities of their obligation under international human rights law to “respect and guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
“We call on the authorities to release all those detained in connection with the exercise of their rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, and to drop the charges against them,” the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
According to the United Nations, more than 14,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests. At least six of them were sentenced to death.