At least 58 children have been killed in Iran since protests against the regime started two months ago, according to a human rights group.
Research by Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) found 46 boys and 12 girls under 18 have been killed with some of the victims reportedly as young as eight.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in recent weeks in protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by police in the capital, Tehran, for not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.
HRA said five children were killed by security forces in the last week as violence continued across the country.
Among those reportedly killed last week were nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak who died in the city of Izeh on Wednesday along with six other people including a 13-year-old child.
Families told The Observer newspaper how their children had died, with Hassan Daroftadeh saying his son Kumar, had died on the streets of his home town of Piranshahr after being shot at close range.
He said: “The Iranian regime denies killing him. They later said ‘foreigners’ have killed him. I don’t know how the officer who killed my son hugs his own children. I don’t know how he sleeps at night.”
HRA said more than 380 protesters have been killed since the protests began and more than 16,000 people have been detained, including children. The figure is disputed by the authorities.
Last week, Foreign Office minister David Rutley criticised Iran’s decision to issue a death sentence over protests as “another act of desperation” by a regime prioritising its survival over human rights.
He said: “What we are seeing in Iran is a grassroots movement from the people of Iran, who are showing outstanding bravery in the face of a brutal crackdown.
“Iran needs to stop trying to blame this on everyone but themselves and take responsibility for their actions and instigate real change.”