Security forces in Iran cracked down on Monday as protests and international criticism continued over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for violating the country’s dress code.
Amini, who was Kurdish, was arrested last week by Iran’s “morality police” for not properly covering her hair with a headscarf or hijab, according to a statement by acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif. Amini collapsed in a detention center, fell into a coma and died three days later, the statement said.
Iranian police said Amini died of a heart attack and released images that supposedly show the moment she collapsed. Her family told local media she had no history of heart problems and said witnesses reported pushing her into a police car.
Her father, Amjad Amini, told an Iranian news website that authorities pressured him to bury his daughter overnight to reduce the chance of protests, but the family was able to bury her in the morning instead.
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Thousands of protesters across the country took to the streets after Amini’s death, including those in her hometown of Saqez, where she was buried on Saturday. Police arrested several protesters and used tear gas to disperse protesters in Saqez and gunshots and water cannons to disperse crowds in the Iranian capital Tehran, according to videos shared by Iranian journalists on social media.
Women can be seen on video at the forefront of clashes with police taking off their headscarves. Hijab has been compulsory for women since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Dozens of women also took off their headscarves in 2017 in protest.
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At least five people were killed, 75 people were injured and several were arrested during the protests Monday, according to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a human rights watchdog that oversees Kurdish areas of western Iran.
The UN’s al-Nashif expressed concern over Amini’s death “and the violent response of security forces to the ensuing protests.”
“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, which in particular ensures that her family has access to justice and truth,” Al-Nashif said in a statement. statement Tuesday. “Authorities must stop attacking, harassing and detaining women who do not follow the hijab rules.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Amini “must live today.”
“Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end the systematic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest,” he said on Twitter.
Blinken’s comments about the tensions came as the US attempted to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
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European Union leaders also issued a statement saying that Amini’s death was “unacceptable and that the perpetrators of this murder must be held accountable”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian rejected the criticism and said on Twitter that Amini’s death is under investigation by the judiciary and a parliamentary committee. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who left for New York on Monday to address the UN General Assembly, said he had told Amini’s family by telephone that he had ordered an investigation and vowed to continue the case.
“For Iran, human rights are of inherent value – unlike those who see it (as) a tool against adversaries,” he said.
According to the United Nations statement, police in Iran have increased patrols and verbally and physically harassed women in recent months.
The UN Human Rights Agency said it has received numerous verified videos of women being punched in the face, beaten with batons and thrown into police vans for not wearing the hijab correctly. The office said there are reports that Amini was struck on the head with a baton and that her head was slammed into a vehicle during her arrest.
Mehdi Forrozesh, the director of Iran’s Forensic Medical Organization, said on state television on Saturday that the results of Amini’s autopsy would be released after further investigation by medical experts, CNN reported.
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Contributions: The The Bharat Express News