Iran Hijab Laws Protest: 3 Die in Agitation Over 22-Year-Old's Custodial Death
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the violent response of security forces to the protests in Iran.
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Iranian government officials and human rights groups have confirmed the deaths of three individuals during protests in the country over 22-year-old Mahsa Amini's death in police custody.
Esmail Zarei Kousha, the governor of the northwestern Kurdistan province, told reporters on Tuesday, 20 September, that three people died "suspiciously" during "illegal protests" in recent days, according to Al Jazeera.
However, Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, said that the three people that died were killed on Monday, 19 September, when the police opened fire upon the protesters, Reuters reported.
Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif in a press release on Tuesday "expressed alarm" at the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and condemned the violent response of security forces to the protests in Iran.
Three Foreign Citizens Arrested Amid Protests
"Investigations have shown that these people were shot and killed by those working against the establishment and with firearms that are not employed by any tiers of security or law enforcement forces in the province," Governor Kousha said according to Fars News.
"A citizen of (the city of) Divandarreh was killed with a weapon that isn't used by the armed forces. Terrorist groups are looking to kill," Kousha said.
Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri accused foreign agents of instigating the violence in the country.
“According to exact reports by responsible entities, in Tehran’s recent issues, the footprints of intervention by some embassies and foreign services can be clearly seen,” he tweeted.
He added that citizens of three foreign countries were arrested amid the protests.
The Kurdish human rights group, Hengaw, which is based in Norway, confirmed the three deaths – one each in Divandareh, Saqqez, and Dehglan in the Kurdistan province. It also claimed that the deaths were caused due to police firing.
Hengaw added that 221 people were injured and 250 were arrested in Kurdistan, according to The Guardian.
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights Condemns the Crackdown on Protesters
The UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights issued a press release in which the acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 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."
Calling for a repeal of laws that mandate wearing a hijab, she said, "The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules."
Al-Nashif condemned the reported disproportionate use of force against protesters by the police and called for Iran to respect the right to freedoms of expression, assembly and association as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Protests erupted across Iran on 19 September over the death of a 22-year-old woman, who was allegedly arrested and beaten up by the police for not following the hijab laws in the country.
The woman, Mahsa Amini, was travelling from Iran's western province of Kurdistan, from where she hails, to Tehran to visit relatives on 14 September. During this time, she was reportedly nabbed by the "guidance patrol" or morality police for failing to meet the country's strict dress code for women.
Several witnesses said that she was then beaten up in a police van, as per The Guardian.
A video of her being purportedly shoved into a van has also been going viral on social media. However, the country's police have denied all allegations.
As per Iranian human rights organisation Hrana, Amini's family were told by the police that their daughter would be released after a "re-education session."
Later, they were informed that she had been taken to the hospital, and was transferred to an intensive care unit, where she was declared brain dead.
On the other hand, the police said that the 22-year-old died after suffering a heart attack on 16 September – two days after she was allegedly arrested.
Several women took to the streets to protest against Amini's death and removed their hijabs to mark their solidarity.
(With inputs from Al Jazeera, Reuters, Fars News, and The Guardian.)
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Topics: United Nations Human Rights UNHRC
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