Iran and Death of Mahsa Amini; The Protests

Iran and Death of Mahsa Amini; The Protests

The death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after being detained by Iran’smorality police has sparked widespread protests in the country. The circumstances leading to her death had led to the controversy and wide spread protest. While the authorities say she had a heart attack, her family alleged that she was beaten up during her detention.

Amini was detained for not wearing her hijab properly, which is a punishable offence in Iran.  In the protest, taken out in the country, women protested with their headscarves in their hands, shouting anti-government slogans.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The Human Rights Council established an independent, international fact-finding mission to thoroughly and independently investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran related to the protests following the death in custody of Jina Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022. The independent international fact-finding mission would thoroughly and independently investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran related to the protests that began on 16 September 2022, with respect to women and children; to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations; to collect, consolidate and analyse evidence of such violations and preserve evidence, including in view of cooperation in any legal proceedings; and to engage with all relevant stakeholders, including the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, relevant United Nations entities, human rights organizations and civil society.

MAHSA AMINI; WHAT LED TO DETENTION AND DEATH

Amini was travelling to Tehran, Iran’s capital,  from Saqez in the western province of Kurdistan. She was in the capital city with her brother to meet some relatives. But in the city, the Iran’s Moraity Police detained her for allegedly flouting the dress code for women in the country.

The morality police are in place in the country to implement dress-code-related laws in the country.

Though Amini was not particularly given any reason for her detention, reports said that the detention was due to her clothes. She was taken to a detention centre where her brother was present during interrogation. However, Local media reports stated that Amini’s brother heard “screaming noises” from inside and soon after an ambulance was called.

The 22 year old Amini was taken to the hospital, where she is said to have slipped into a coma. Videos and photos of Amini lying unconscious on a hospital bed with tubes in her mouth, blood coming out of her ears and bruises around her eyes went viral on social media.

Iran’s security forces issued a statement saying that Amini had suddenly collapsed and suffered a heart attack while receiving “educational training” on hijab rules. However, Amini’s family reiterated that she was perfectly healthy before her detention. Later the security forces also released a video, that is alleged to have been edited, where a woman in a robe — identified as Amini by the police officers — is speaking to another woman at the detention centre when she suddenly holds her head and collapses, the video then cuts to medical staff entering the room.

MAHSA AMINI; THE UNFOLDING OF  PROTEST

Soon after Amini’s death, several persons came out against detaining and harassing women for dress codes and dress laws. One of major reason for the protests is the refusal of Iran’s security forces to take responsibility for the incident.

The protests first emerged in Tehran outside Kasra hospital, where the police took her. The protests then spread outside Tehran, to Amini’s hometown of Saqez.

While the police tried to keep the number of people at her funeral to a minimum, thousands gathered at the graveside. After Amini’s funeral, protestors gathered outside Saqez Governor’s office and the protests soon turned violent, reports said. 

Women protestors took off their hijabs in solidarity with Amini. The Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University also staged peaceful protests with over 100 students carrying posters with ‘women, life, freedom’ written on them and risked punishment. Many women also took to social media to chop off their hair to protest against the government and Amini’s death.

Thousands have taken to the streets in a number of cities across the country, including in Tehran, Isfahan, Karaj, Mashhad, Rasht, Saqqes and Sanandaj, in protests against Amini’s death. Security forces have reportedly responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and teargas. At least two people have reportedly been killed and several injured, and a number have been arrested.

MAHSA AMINI; HIJAB LAW

Iran passed a mandatory hijab law in 1981 soon after the Islamic revolution (1978-79). The law states that it is a crime for women to appear in public, or on the streets, without a hijab. In July this year on the National Hijab and Chastity Day, Iran saw widespread protests where women took to social media to remove their hijabs in public. Many also posted photos and videos of themselves not wearing hijabs in public transport.

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi had also passed an order in July to enforce Iran’s hijab and chastity law with new restrictions. Along with a crackdown on ‘improper hijabs’, the government also issued an order against wearing high heels and stockings. The order also made it mandatory for women to cover their necks and shoulders.

MAHSA AMINI; UN

Un High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed alarm at the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and the violent response by security forces to ensuing protests. Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif SAID “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 ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth.”

THE UN High Commissioner said that in recent months, the morality police have expanded street patrols, subjecting women perceived to be wearing “loose hijab” to verbal and physical harassment and arrest. The UN Human Rights Office has received numerous, and verified, videos of violent treatment of women, including slapping women across the face, beating them with batons and throwing them into police vans.

“The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules,” said Al-Nashif, calling for the repeal of all discriminatory laws and regulations that impose mandatory hijab.

UN human rights experts on October 26 condemned the killings and the crackdown by security forces in Iran on protesters following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, including alleged arbitrary arrests and detentions, gender-based and sexual violence, excessive use of force, torture, and enforced disappearances. They urged that the reports be thoroughly and independently investigated and those responsible held to account.

“We are deeply troubled by continued reports of deliberate and unlawful use by the Iranian security forces of live ammunition, metal pellets and buckshot against peaceful unarmed protesters in breach of the principles of legality, precaution, necessity, non-discrimination and proportionality, applicable to the use of force,” the experts said.

“An alarming number of protesters have already been detained and killed, many of whom are children, women and older persons. The Government must instruct police to immediately cease any use of excessive and lethal force and exercise restraint.”

They said reports of physical and sexual violence against women and girls during protests and in public spaces, and the denial of other women’s and girl’s rights while in detention, or when active in public, were frightening.

“We see such violations as a continuum of long-standing, pervasive, gender-based discrimination embedded in legislation, policies and societal structures. All of which have been devastating for women and girls in the country for the past four decades.”
Internet communications have been disrupted since the protests started, preventing access to, and sharing of, information, including about alleged human rights abuses against protesters.

In view of the gravity of the situation, the experts called on the Human Rights Council to urgently take necessary action to address the situation, including the organisation of a Special Session. They also supported calls for the establishment of an international investigative mechanism, to ensure accountability in Iran and to end the persistent impunity for grave human rights violations.

The Human Rights Council established an independent, international fact-finding mission to thoroughly and independently investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran related to the protests following the death in custody of Jina Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022. The independent international fact-finding mission would thoroughly and independently investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran related to the protests that began on 16 September 2022, with respect to women and children; to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations; to collect, consolidate and analyse evidence of such violations and preserve evidence, including in view of cooperation in any legal proceedings; and to engage with all relevant stakeholders, including the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, relevant United Nations entities, human rights organizations and civil society.

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