Tehran under pressure after the death of a young woman

In the Amini case, there is one statement against another: last week, the Kurdish Iranian woman was arrested by the Iranian religious police because of her “un-Islamic” behavior and taken to a police station. According to the police, she developed heart problems there. She fell into a coma and her death was confirmed on Friday. The police did not touch her, and any allegation was “baseless,” said the police chief in the capital, Tehran, Hossein Rahimi, on Monday.

The Aminis family and countless others didn’t want to believe it. They assume that Amini was beaten because of a crooked headscarf. The Kurdish Rudaw Media Network reported that Amini’s father also spoke of signs of torture on his daughter’s body. He rejected government information that his daughter had previous illnesses: she was “perfectly healthy”.

A version other than the official one was also circulating online. Amini was arrested and mistreated because of visible strands of hair, the result was a cerebral hemorrhage. She was brain dead on Tuesday. The clinic where the 22-year-old was treated also wrote on Instagram that Amini was already brain dead when she was admitted on Tuesday. The post was later deleted.

protests inside and outside Iran

Since then, the waves have been rising, especially among the younger generation. There were protests at the Tehran Art University, as well as in the Kurdish areas of Iran. According to the Fars news agency, there were clashes with security forces in Amini’s hometown of Saghes. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Out of solidarity, traders in Kurdistan announced that they would close their shops on Monday. At the beginning of the week there were renewed protests. Most newspapers in the country dedicated their front pages to the dead on Sunday.

Mahsa Amini

Reuters/Iranwire

Amini was only 22 years old. Statement against statement is made about the course of the death.

The White House said Monday that Iran must end violence against women exercising their fundamental rights. Amini’s death is a horrific and egregious violation of human rights.

Iranians in exile in Austria also joined the protests. “Her death should be condemned sharply worldwide in order to prevent further violence against women in Iran,” emphasized the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran – Austria and Medical Professionals for Human Rights in Iran – Austria in a broadcast on Monday. Among other things, they called on the Austrian federal government to “hold Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to account for Mahsa Amini’s killing and the increasing human rights violations in his country”.

Hair off as a sign of solidarity

In Iran itself, there has also been criticism of the moral police in parliament, even from leading clerics like ex-President Mohammed Khatami. In her view, the incident not only badly damaged the country’s reputation, but also that of Islam.

In the population, many vented themselves on the Internet. A number of women, including prominent Iranians, cut their hair in protest. Videos and photos of it were shared on the internet and received a lot of encouragement. “We are fed up with this gender apartheid regime,” wrote one user.

Government and authorities are now under pressure. It is not only the clothing regulations that have been in force since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that have been criticized, but also the discrimination against women in general. Many are outraged that a young woman had to die because of “a few strands of hair”.

Raisi’s journey overshadowed

The police recently tried to prove their innocence with unverifiable video recordings. The conservative newspaper Keyhan, which is considered the voice of hardliners, supported the account. This is sufficient to expose “the lies and stories of the opponents of the revolution and their companions”. Police chief Rahimi justified the arrest of the young woman by saying that the police were forced to intervene. “It is our job by law to remind women of the dress code,” said the police chief. “What they wear at home is their business, but not in public.”

President Raisi is also in need of explanations. He headed to New York for the UN general debate on Monday to put Iran’s image in the right light in the world and draw attention to the impact of US sanctions, the president’s office said in a statement. The trip is likely to be overshadowed by Amini’s death, especially since there was a lot of dismay and protest internationally. The Austrian-based organizations for human rights in Iran called on leading politicians worldwide and in Austria to hold Raisi accountable in New York.

Raisi had instructed the Iranian Ministry of the Interior to investigate the background to the death. A special team of experienced police officers and forensic experts should take up the investigation. On Sunday evening, Raisi called Amini’s family. According to the Presidential Office, Raisi assured “that he would follow the investigation until the matter was clarified”.

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