Iran: 3 dead in protests over the death of a woman in prison

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, 22, from the Kurdistan region (north-west), was arrested on September 13 in Tehran where she was visiting with her family, for “wearing inappropriate clothes” by the vice police, a unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strict dress code for women.


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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.

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.

On Tuesday, the governor of Kurdistan, Ismail Zarei Koosha, quoted by the Fars news agency, reported “three deaths” during demonstrations in different localities in the province, without specifying a date.

He described these deaths as “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.

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.


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The envoy told the family that “measures will be taken” and that Ayatollah Khamenei was “pained” by the 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 “her concern over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini (…) and the violent reaction of the security forces to the demonstrations”, and called for an “impartial” and “independent” investigation.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, French President Emmanuel Macron said, after an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raïsi, that he had “insisted on respect for women’s rights” in Iran.

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The death of the young woman also provoked criticism from senior Iranian officials against the morality police, officially known as the Gasht-e Ershad, or “orientation patrol”.

In Parliament, MP Jalal Rashidi Koochi, quoted by the ISNA agency, considered that the morality police “cause damage to the country”.

“In order to avoid the repetition of such cases, the methods used by these orientation patrols (…) should be reviewed,” Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf told 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 conveying 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 said Moeenoddin Saeedi.

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 wearing their veils incorrectly, as this has the effect of increase social tensions. The law must be changed so that it is considered only as an offence.

On Sunday, police made arrests and fired tear gas into Kurdistan to disperse hundreds of protesters.

Protests took place on Monday in Tehran, notably in several universities, and in Mashhad, the second largest city in the country, according to the Fars and Tasnim agencies.

Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri said the protests were “organized for the sole purpose of creating unrest”.


AFP

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