Children caught in Iran protests detained, face ‘psychological centres’


Protesting children have also been arrested away from streets and inside classrooms, Iran’s Education Minister Yousef Nouri told the reformist Shargh newspaper in remarks published on Wednesday.

“They are not that many,” he said in response to a question on the number of schoolchildren arrested. “I can’t give an exact number.”

Nouri said those detained were being held in “psychological centres”.

The aim was “correction and rehabilitation” to stop them from becoming “anti-social characters”, he said. 

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said Monday it was “extremely concerned” over reports of “children and adolescents being killed, injured and detained” in Iran.

Despite the bloody crackdown and blocks on smartphone apps popular among Iranian teens, such as Instagram and TikTok, Internet-savvy youths have still managed to get out videos of their protests.

They have adopted new tactics for the street too. Those heading out to protests wear masks and hats, leave phones behind to avoid being tracked, and take extra clothes to change into if they are marked by paintballs that the security forces deploy to identify them later.

Revolutionary Guards deputy commander Ali Fadavi told Iranian media on Oct 5 that the “average age of the detainees from many of the recent protests was 15”.

“Some of the teenagers and young adults arrested used similar key phrases in their confessions, such as likening street riots to video games,” the Mehr news agency quoted Fadavi as saying.

The concern with video games has been echoed by other officials as well.

Cleric Aboulfazl Ahmadi, head of a provincial organisation linked to the morality police, said this month that Iran’s enemies “have banked on” the country’s teenagers and that “some video games were designed to bring the youth to the streets at times like these”.

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