Skip to main content

Crackdown in Iran after Mahsa Amini’s death sparks protests

Security forces cracked down on protesters demonstrating across Iran following the death of a young woman in the custody of its so-called vice squad, which reportedly left five people dead.

The death of Mahsa Amini, 22, a Kurdish woman from western Iran, during a visit to the capital last week sparked outrage over the government’s increasingly strict enforcement of ultra-conservative dress codes for women, mandatory since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The case has drawn worldwide interest and condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Amini was arrested as she exited a subway station, and she suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma while in police custody, state-affiliated media said. Her family insisted she had no previous health issues. Activists claimed she may have been beaten by the police. Authorities released edited CCTV footage of Amini at the police station, but her family demanded the release of unedited footage.

Iranian woman dies after being detained by ‘morals police’, sparking outrage

Heightened international scrutiny of Iran’s human rights record comes ahead of its arch-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

tuesday was the fourth day of unrest across Iran, with protests in many places including the capital Tehran. Two people were killed when security forces fired on protesters in the Kurdish town of Saqez – Amini’s hometown – while two others died in the town of Divandarreh and a fifth was killed in Dehgolan, according to hengawa company based in Norway guardian of rights. The claims could not immediately be independently verified by The Washington Post.

In Tehran, photos from the scene of a protest showed protesters crowded around a burning motorbike. Videos posted on social media appeared to show protesters injured after clashes with authorities. Internet access was limited in some parts of the country.

Other footage showed protesters burning headscarves and shouting slogans attacking Iran’s supreme leader. Some have used Amini’s Kurdish first name, Jhina, in reference to the discrimination Kurds face in Iran.

Iran has not confirmed any deaths during the protests. The semi-official Fars news agency reported that security forces had dispersed protesters in a number of towns and that police had arrested leaders of some of the protests.

In an apparent effort to calm the public, the provincial aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, paid a two-hour visit to Amini’s family home on Monday and promised that “all institutions will take action to uphold the rights that have been violated”. the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Authorities shared edited video from a CCTV camera that showed Amini looking healthy as she entered the police station, then later showed her collapsed on the ground and being brought into an ambulance. But his family demanded the full footage be released, calling the clips insufficient evidence.

Greater Tehran’s police commander told reporters that Amini wore a hijab that violated rules requiring women to wear headscarves and dress conservatively. He said she didn’t resist being detained and even made jokes in the police van.

Amini’s father, Amjad, said the week before the incident, they had been in Tehran without problems.

“There was no problem with my daughter’s manto,” he told the state-backed Tasnim news agency on Tuesday, referring to a long coat that women in Iran wear in the part of the required dress code, “and she wore the hijab”.

A senior morality police officer, Colonel Ahmed Mirzaei, has been suspended following Amini’s death, according to Iran International, a London-based news channel. Officials have denied the allegations, the Guardian reported. The Interior Ministry had earlier ordered an investigation into Amini’s death at Raisi’s request.

Iran doubles restrictions on abortion and contraception

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the Iranian government “for ending its systemic persecution of women and enabling peaceful protest,” in a tweet on Tuesday.

Acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif issued a statement on Tuesday expressing concern over his death and calling for an independent investigation.

“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, which ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth,” she said.

“Authorities must stop targeting, harassing and detaining women who do not follow hijab rules,” Nashif added, calling for the repeal of mandatory hijab regulations.

In its own statement on Monday, the EU said what happened to Amini was “unacceptable and the perpetrators of this murder must be held accountable”.

Before leaving for New York, Raisi told reporters at Tehran airport that he had no plans to meet President Biden on the sidelines of the event, the Associated Press reported. Indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal appear to be close to deadlock.

Raisi, a hardline cleric who took office last year, has called for strict enforcement of dress codes. Last month, a video emerged showing a woman being held by Iran’s increasingly assertive guidance patrols being ejected from a van at high speed.

The government crackdown sparked a protest movement over the summer by Iranian women, who photographed themselves without headscarves and posted the photos on social media.

Kareem Fahim in Istanbul and Paul Schemm in London contributed to this report.