On Day 74 of the widespread demonstrations, Iranian students and protesters demonstrated in solidarity with a young woman who was blinded by security forces in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran. On November 15, 2022, Ghazal Ranjkesh, a law student, was shot in the eye while returning home with her mother.
“He had no idea I was bulletproof. He had no idea that my body and soul were stronger than trembling in front of his rifle and withdrawing. When I couldn’t breathe because of the pain in my eye, the first thing I asked was, ‘Mom, are you OK?’ ‘Did you get shot?’ Ghazal, that’s me.”
Several pellets destroyed her eyeball, eyelid, and a portion of her face. “After a 3-hour operation, doctors removed the pellets from my eye,” she wrote in the postscript to her story. Plastic surgery was used to repair my eyelid. I can no longer see because of the 52 stitches in my right eye. The retina is completely damaged, and there is no hope of grafting the cornea.”
Students at Tehran’s Art University and metro passengers participated in symbolic acts of solidarity with Ghazal. She is one of the hundreds of protesters who have been rendered blind by security forces.
On November 25, a group of 140 Iranian ophthalmologists wrote a letter to the president of the Medical System. Doctors warned that many people treated in medical facilities had lost sight in one or both eyes as a result of being shot in the eye by bullets and paintballs.
Niloufar Aghaii, a midwife, was shot in the eye during a protest outside the Medical Organization building last month.
The New York Times wrote on November 19, hundreds of victims have suffered severe eye injuries inflicted by Iranian security forces since mid-September, according to doctors and medical facilities. “Among the most irreversible effects of the government’s efforts to crush the uprising has been the blinding of people taking part in them. Across Iran, scores of protesters have gone to hospitals with eyes ruptured by the metal pellets and rubber bullets that security forces fire to disperse crowds.
“The full extent of the injuries in Iran has been largely concealed by the country’s internet blackout.” However, medical evidence provided to The Times by doctors, protesters, patients’ families, and rights groups revealed that hospital ophthalmology wards have been inundated with hundreds of eye-wound victims. According to eyewitness accounts and more than 80 pages of medical records from various hospitals and clinics, the injuries ranged from mutilated retinas to severed optic nerves to punctured irises.”
During the 16-day campaign to End Violence Against Women, the NCRI Women’s Committee wishes to draw attention to the violations of rights suffered by hundreds of Iranian protesters who have suffered eye trauma. The excessive actions of Iranian security forces have violated their right to physical integrity. We call on the UN Human Rights Council and the fact-finding mission to investigate these cases and bring the perpetrators to justice.