Iran crackdown after Mahsa Amini’s death prompts protests

Security forces cracked down on protesters who were demonstrating across Iran over the death of a young woman in the custody of so-called morality police, allegedly killing five.

The death of Mahsa Amini, 22, a Kurdish woman from western Iran, during a visit to the capital last week has sparked outrage at the increasingly strict enforcement of the ultra-conservative dress code for women, mandated 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 was exiting a subway station and she suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma in custody, state-affiliated media said. Her family insisted that she had no previous health problems. Activists claimed she may have been beaten by police. Authorities released edited CCTV footage of Amini at the police station, but her family has requested the release of unaltered footage.

Iranian woman dies after being arrested by ‘morality police’, sparking outrage

The intensified international scrutiny of Iran’s human rights record follows a speech by its arch-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Tuesday was the fourth day of unrest across Iran with protests in numerous 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 reports Hengawa Norway-based company rights guard. The claims could not immediately be independently verified by the Washington Post.

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In Tehran, photos from the scene of a protest showed demonstrators crowding around a burning motorcycle. Videos posted on social media appeared to show protesters injured after clashes with authorities. Internet access has been restricted in parts of the country.

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

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

In an apparent attempt to reassure the public, provincial Aid Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, paid a two-hour visit to Amini’s family home Monday and pledged that “all institutions will take action to defend the violated rights.” . This was reported by the semi-official news agency Tasnim.

Authorities shared edited video from a surveillance camera that showed Amini looking healthy entering the police station and later showing her collapsing on the ground and being taken to an ambulance. But her family has called for the full footage to be released, calling the clips insufficient evidence.

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The Greater Tehran Police Commander told reporters that Amini was wearing a hijab, which violated rules requiring women to wear a headscarf and dress conservatively. He said she did not resist detention and even joked in the police van.

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

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

A senior morality police officer, Colonel Ahmed Mirzaei, was suspended after Amini’s death, according to Iran International, a London-based news channel. Officials denied those claims, the Guardian reported. Earlier, at Raisi’s behest, the Home Office ordered an investigation into Amini’s death.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called called on the Iranian government to “end its systematic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest” in a tweet on Tuesday.

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

“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority that will specifically ensure her family has access to justice and truth,” she said.

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“The authorities must stop attacking, harassing and detaining women who do not comply with the hijab rules,” Nashif added, calling for the mandatory hijab regulations to be lifted.

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

Before leaving for New York, Raisi told reporters at Tehran Airport that he had no plans to meet with 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 on the verge of a deadlock.

Raisi, a hard-line cleric who took office last year, has called for strict enforcement of the dress code. Video emerged last month showing a woman being arrested by Iran’s increasingly assertive executive patrols and thrown from a speeding van.

The government’s actions triggered a protest movement by Iranian women in the summer, who took photos of themselves without headscarves and published the pictures on social media.

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

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