IranWire, a news website run by professional Iranian journalists in the diaspora and citizen journalists inside Iran, today released a special report detailing the use of blinding as a weapon of suppression by the Islamic Republic of Iran since mostly peaceful anti-government demonstrations began in September 2022.

The report, “Blinding as a Weapon of Suppression in Iran,” documents dozens of serious eye injuries sustained by protestors and bystanders. It also shares anecdotal evidence of there being thousands more victims who are reluctant or unable to access care because of the presence of security forces in hospitals and clinics across Iran. Though media outlets occasionally mention that protestors suffer eye injuries after being hit by metal pellets, rubber bullets and tear gas, the widespread and systematic use of blinding as a weapon of suppression has until now been largely undocumented.

In addition to detailing the specific cases of more than 20 survivors, IranWire’s report dives into the medical, physical and psychological consequences of blinding. The authors, Aida Ghajar, Katherine Hignett and Omid Shams, reviewed medical records and consulted with medical and legal experts to draw conclusions in the report.

“The Islamic Republic’s systematic use of blinding as a weapon of suppression is a perfect example of a minimally reported story just now being brought to light because of the bravery of citizen journalists and our courageous reporters in the diaspora,” said Maziar Bahari, IranWire’s founder and executive director. “Our colleague Aida Ghajar, who lives in France, has dedicated her time to finding dozens of people across Iran who have been blinded by the regime. IranWire exists to hold leaders accountable for their actions. We hope “Blinding as a Weapon of Suppression in Iran” raises awareness of the dangers protesters and bystanders face in Iran. The international community must act quickly and force the government of Iran to stop these heinous acts against innocent people.”

IranWire, which publishes in five languages, has trained more than 5,000 citizen journalists in Iran since its founding by Bahari in 2013.

The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran for what authorities deemed as improperly wearing her hijab. She died Sept. 16 while in police custody. Protests began in Tehran shortly after her death and quickly spread to other parts of the country. Ghajar was the journalist who first reported Amini’s hospitalization in September 2022.

Severe eye injuries have been reported by protestors in many Iranian cities, including Tehran, Alborz, Isfahan, West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces, pointing to an organized effort to suppress protests by maiming participants. The cases in the IranWire report represent victims mostly under the age of 40, including a 5-year-old who was shot 20 times with metal pellets and permanently lost vision in her left eye.

“Blinding as a Weapon of Suppression in Iran” also includes a review by Iranian-American ophthalmologists of the injuries and prognoses for survivors, through analysis of medical records from 12 people who sustained injuries.

“The fact that eye patches have become a symbol of pride among demonstrators in Iran shows a clear link between the demonstrations and blinding as a weapon to suppress these protests,” Hignett said in the report. “This report is an attempt to document a small portion of these injuries.”

Source » globenewswire