Three people were killed during protests in Iranian Kurdistan sparked on Saturday by the death of a young woman in the custody of vice police, an official said on Tuesday.
Mahsa Amini, aged 22 and from the Kurdistan region (north-west), was arrested on September 13 in Tehran where she was visiting with her family, for “wearing inappropriate clothing” by the vice police, a unit tasked with enforcing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strict dress code for women.
In Iran, covering your hair is compulsory in public. The morality police further prohibit women from wearing short coats above the knee, tight pants and jeans with holes as well as brightly colored outfits, among other things.
An unexplained death
Masha Amini fell into a coma after her arrest and died on September 16 in hospital, according to state television and her family. Activists claim she suffered a head injury while in custody. Iranian police have dismissed the charges and an investigation has been opened.
The death of the young woman sparked a wave of anger in Iran, where demonstrations broke out on Saturday in Kurdistan, then in Tehran and other regions of Iran.
Veils burned, police repression… Images of the revolt of Iranian women after the death of Mahsa Amini
On Tuesday, the governor of Kurdistan, Ismail Zarei Koosha, quoted by the Fars news agency, reported “three dead” during the demonstrations in various localities of the province, without specifying a date.
He called these deaths “suspicious, part of a plot fomented by the enemy”. He also claimed that one of the victims was killed by a type of weapon not used by Iranian forces.
UN calls for ‘independent’ investigation
Faced with the anger caused by this death, the representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Kurdistan, Abdolreza Pourzahabi, went to the family home of Masha Amini on Monday, according to the Tasnim agency.
The emissary told the family that “measures will be taken” and that Ayatollah Khamenei was ” sadness “ by this death. “As I promised the Amini family, I will follow the case to the end”he said.
Abroad, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ad interim, Nada Al-Nashif, expressed “his concern over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini (…) and the violent reaction of the security forces to the demonstrations”and called for an investigation “impartial” and “independent”.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, French President Emmanuel Macron said, after a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raïsi, that he had “insisted on respect for women’s rights” in Iran.
Vice police criticized even in Iran
The death of the young woman also provoked criticism from senior Iranian officials against the morality police, officially known as Gasht-e Ershad, or “Orientation Patrol”. In Parliament, MP Jalal Rashidi Koochi, quoted by the ISNA agency, estimated that the morality police “causes damage to the country”.
“In order to avoid the repetition of such cases, the methods used by these orientation patrols (…) should be reviewed”, said the Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf to the official IRNA agency. More radical, another parliamentarian announced his intention to propose the complete abolition of this force.
“I believe that due to the ineffectiveness of the Gasht-e Ershad in understanding the culture of hijab, this unit should be removed, so that the children of this country will not be afraid when they come across this force”said Moeenoddin Saeedi.
For the Organization for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, an influential organization affiliated with the Iranian state, “We must stop arresting and prosecuting people wearing their headscarves incorrectly because this has the effect of increasing social tensions. The law must be amended so that it is considered only as an offence..