Iran: Three dead in protests over the death of a woman in prison
Three people were killed in protests in Iran’s Kurdistan sparked by the death of a young woman in deputy police custody on Saturday, an official said on Tuesday. Mahsa Amini, 22, from Kurdistan Region (Northwest), was arrested on September 13 in Tehran, where she was visiting with her family, by the Morality Police, a unit in charge of enforcing the Islamic Republic Arrested for “wearing inappropriate clothing” Iran’s strict dress code for women.
The woman reportedly suffered a head injury while in custody
In Iran, covering your hair in public is compulsory. Among other things, the vice squad forbids women from wearing short coats above the knee, tight pants and jeans with holes, and brightly colored outfits. Masha Amini fell into a coma after her arrest and died in hospital on September 16, state television and her family reported. Activists claim she sustained a head injury while in custody. Iranian police have dropped the charges and launched an investigation.
The young woman’s death sparked a wave of anger in Iran, where demonstrations erupted in Kurdistan on Saturday, then in Tehran and other regions of Iran. On Tuesday, the governor of Kurdistan, Ismail Zarei Koosha, was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying that “three people died” in demonstrations in various places in the province, without giving a date. He described these deaths as “suspicious, part of an enemy-fomented conspiracy”. He also claimed that one of the victims was killed by a type of weapon not used by Iranian forces.
Ayatollah Khamenei “pains” this death
Amidst the anger sparked by the death, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in Kurdistan, Abdolreza Pourzahabi, went to Masha Amini’s family home on Monday, Tasnim agency said. The envoy informed the family that “measures are being taken” and that Ayatollah Khamenei was “painful” at the death. “As I promised the Amini family, I will follow the case to the end,” he said.
Abroad, the United Nations Interim High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, expressed “concern at the death of Mahsa Amini in custody (…) and the violent response of the security forces to the ensuing demonstrations”. “The tragic death of Mahsa Amini and the allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority (…)” she added.
criticism of the moral police
The young woman’s death also provoked criticism from senior Iranian officials of the Morality Police, officially known as the Gasht-e Ershad, or “Orientation Patrol”. In Parliament, MP Jalal Rashidi Koochi, quoted by the ISNA agency, said the vice squad was “damaging the country.”
“In order to avoid the repetition of such cases, the methods of these orientation patrols (…) should be reviewed,” Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf told the official IRNA agency. Even more radically, another MP announced his intention to propose the total abolition of this violence. “I believe that due to the Gasht-e Ershad’s ineffectiveness in instilling the culture of Hijab, this entity should be removed so that the children of this country will not be afraid when they encounter this force,” Moeenoddin Saeedi said.
The will that it be considered “exclusively as a criminal offence”.
For the Organization for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, an influential organization affiliated with the Iranian state, “We must stop arresting and prosecuting people who wear their veils incorrectly because it is causing social tensions to increase leads. The law must be changed so that this is only considered a criminal offence.”
On Sunday, police made arrests and fired tear gas into Kurdistan to disperse hundreds of protesters. According to agencies Fars and Tasnim, protests took place in Tehran on Monday, particularly at several universities and in Mashhad, the country’s second largest city. Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri said the protests were “organized for the sole purpose of causing unrest”.
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