‘They used our hijabs to gag us’: Iran protesters tell of rapes, beatings and torture by police

More than four months after the death of Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish woman who died in custody after being arrested for incorrectly wearing her hijab, the Iranian authorities’ attempts to crush nationwide protests have seen more than 500 people killed by security forces, including 70 children. Four protesters have so far been executed by the state, with many more facing the death sentence. According to the latest report by Human Rights Activists in Iran, 19,603 individuals have been arrested in connection with the protests and remain in detention.

In the evening of 15 October 2022, when the street protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini were at their peak, 25-year-old Dorsa* was stopped at a checkpoint while driving through a city in the country’s northern Gilan province.

The checkpoint was chaotic; 25 to 30 heavily armed security officers were shouting and screaming at people to get out of their vehicles. Dorsa was with her sister and two male friends. Their car was searched and when two cans of spray paint were found in her sister’s bag, all hell broke loose.

The sisters claim they were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their back before they were pushed into the rear of a police car. Dorsa says they were taken to a building where they were forced to sign a confession saying they had been protesting, before being separated. Alone in an interrogation room, Dorsa says she could hear the screams of her two male friends being tortured nearby…..