UN 'Alarmed' At Iranian Detainee's Death, Pressure On Tehran Mounts Amid Protests
By RFE/RL September 21, 2022
Pressure mounted on Iran on September 20 over the death in custody of a young Iranian woman as the UN's top rights official and an Iranian lawmaker issued separate public appeals over the tragedy and the deadly unrest it has sparked.
Iranian officials have labeled the death in Tehran of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her detention by the country's morality police an "unfortunate incident" but dismissed accusations of mistreatment as street protests spread to the capital and other cities.
Local and international rights groups as well as critics of Iran's hard-line religious leadership have demanded accountability over the incident.
"Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif today expressed alarm at the death in custody of Mahsa Amini...and the violent response by security forces to ensuing protests," Al-Nashif's office said in a statement on September 20.
Doctors on September 16 declared Kurdistan Province resident Mahsa Amini dead after she showed no brain activity since falling into a coma after being admitted to the hospital, sources told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.
That was three days after she was taken into custody by the so-called Guidance Patrol -- or morality police -- in Tehran for allegedly breaking the country's strict Islamic dress code for women.
Eyewitnesses told journalists Amini appeared to have been beaten inside the police vehicle.
Iranian lawmaker Jalal Rashidi Koochi was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency on September 20 as questioning the effectiveness of the Guidance Patrol, known as Gasht-e Ershad in Farsi, given their actions.
"Gasht-e Ershad is wrong because it has had a result no other than loss and damage for the country," Koochi said, adding that "the main problem is that some people resist accepting the truth."
"Do the people who are taken to these explanatory classes by the Guidance Patrol become conscious and repent when they come out [of custody]?" Koochi asked.
Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi claimed that Amini had a previous illness and that the morality police "basically do not have the tools to beat the detainees."
Amini's father said she had no health problems and holds the police responsible for her death. He said she that she suffered bruises to her legs in custody.
A top medical official in a different province has since come out to publicly challenge officials' account of Amini's death based on images of her body.
Iranian state media reported that a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei paid condolences while visiting Amini's family.
"All institutions will take action to defend the rights that were violated," said Abdolreza Pourzahabi, Khamenei's representative in Kurdistan Province, adding that Khamenei was affected and pained by Amini's death.
The protests in Iran's Kurdistan Province over Amini's death have left three people dead, the region's governor said, confirming information provided earlier by the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a group that monitors Kurdish-inhabited areas of western Iran, where protests have been most intense.
"The three were killed suspiciously" as part of "a plot by the enemy," Ismail Zarei Koosha was quoted as saying by Fars news agency without specifying when the fatalities occurred.
Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansuri tweeted overnight on September 19-20 that "the main elements of tonight's gatherings in Tehran were fully organized, trained and planned to create disturbances in Tehran."
"Burning the flag, pouring diesel on the roads, throwing stones, attacking the police, setting fire to motorcycles and garbage cans, destroying public property, etc. are not the work of ordinary people," he said.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters
Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-amini-death- protests-un-pressure/32042840.html
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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