Days of protests have erupted in Iran after a 22-year-old woman was arrested and killed in police custody for allegedly breaking hijab rules.
On Tuesday, several international leaders criticized the country for the death of Mahsa Amini, who fell into a coma last week The BBC reported that just hours after he was detained by Iran’s ethics police.
Amini was detained by ethics police outside a transit station in Tehran on 13 September. He was accused of breaking a decency law that requires women to wear head scarves, cover their arms and legs, and wear loose clothing.
Amini’s death has been a catalyst for many Iranian women who, in protest, removed their headscarves in public, cut their hair and burned their hijabs.
In a video shared on social media, a woman in Kerman is seen sitting on a tall structure surrounded by a crowd, chanting “death to the dictator” in reference to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As the woman claps, a man cuts her ponytail and holds her in front of the crowd.
In the growing trend of Tik Tok, many other women and men are also cutting their hair in protest.
Tehran’s police chief called Amini’s death “unfortunate” and said it was an incident he did not want to repeat. The BBC reported that several witnesses claimed that Amini was beaten up inside a police vehicle on her way to a detention centre.
Iranian police have denied any beatings, claiming that Amini suffered “sudden heart failure” while waiting to be “educated” at a women’s facility.
Police also released CCTV footage of Amini’s arrest, in which a female officer approaches her, holding Amini’s clothes before falling to the ground with her head in her hands.
Amini’s father has since spoken to a pro-reform news outlet and claimed that the CCTV footage released by the police was edited. The father also said that Amini was physically fit and had no prior health problems. He said that when he went to Amini in the hospital after a coma, bruises were visible on her legs.
Since the public announcement of Amini’s death, mass protests in Tehran have led to clashes with security forces and other unrest, which claimed at least three lives. The United Nations Human Rights Office has called for an investigation. The United States, which is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, called on the Islamic republic to end its “systemic oppression” of women. Italy also condemned his death.
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Iranian officials dismissed the criticism as politically motivated and accused unidentified foreign countries of fomenting unrest.
Tehran province governor Mohsin Mansouri accused foreign embassies of promoting protests and said three foreign nationals had been arrested. He did not specify the embassies or the nationalities of the detainees.
Iran’s ethics police have expanded their patrols in recent months, targeting women for not wearing a hijab properly, the UN body said. The Associated Press obtained verified videos showing women being slapped in the face, beaten with batons and thrown into police vans for wearing too loose hijabs.
Amini was detained by one of these patrol teams of the morality police.
“The tragic death of Mahsa Amini and the allegations of torture and abuse must be investigated promptly, fairly and effectively by an independent competent authority,” said Nada al-Nasif, the UN’s Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter that Amini “should be alive today.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirbadollahian dismissed the criticism, accusing the US of “shedding crocodile tears”.
He tweeted, “An inquiry was ordered into Mahsa’s tragic death which, as the President said, is like our own daughters.” “For Iran, human rights are of inherent value – unlike those who see it as a tool against (like) adversaries.”
Amini, who hails from Kurdish, was buried in her hometown of Saqez in western Iran on Saturday. Protests broke out after his funeral and police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters on Saturday and Sunday. Many protesters were arrested.
Protests spread to Tehran and other cities on Monday. A news website affiliated with State TV said 22 people were arrested during a protest in the northern city of Rasht.
State TV showed footage of the protests on Monday, in which the windows of two police cars were smashed. It said protesters also set two motorbikes on fire and burned Iranian flags in Kurdish regions and Tehran.
Iran has seen The wave of protest