At least four killed, 75 injured in riots over Mahsa Amini’s death in Iranian Kurdistan

Mahsa Amini died after being detained by the Morality Police in Tehran for not wearing her veil correctly

At least four people have been killed and 75 more injured by live ammunition fire from Iranian security forces during riots and protests sparked by the death of a Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who died shortly after being detained in Tehran for not wearing the Islamic veil or hijab properly.

The incidents have been concentrated in the Iranian Kurdistan region, in the west of the country, as reported by the human rights organization Hengaw.

Two of the dead are from the city of Saghez, where Amini was originally from. At least 17 more people were injured in that town. In Divandarré, two more died and 15 were injured. Serious incidents have occurred in this locality. There were also injuries in Mahabad (13), Buchan (7), Kamiyaran (4), Bijar (7), Baneh (4) and Takab (4).

Among the wounded is a ten-year-old girl who is reportedly hospitalized in critical condition after being shot in the head in the town of Bukan, Hengaw reports and Rudaw Kurdish-Iraqi television reports.

In Saghez, where Amini was buried on Saturday, “the atmosphere is that of undeclared martial law,” Bajtian Joshnam, director of the Saghez-based Mokrian news agency, told Radio Farda.

“There are security forces everywhere. There are policemen. Stores are completely closed and even official bodies have been closed since noon,” he noted.

Iranian Kurdish parties had called for a general strike in Rojhelat, eastern or Iranian Kurdistan, on Monday to protest Amini’s death.

There are also reports of protests in the Iranian capital, Tehran, where according to videos released, slogans such as “Death to the dictator'” or “Women, life and freedom!” have been chanted. There have been rallies at Tehran University, Beheshti University and Alame University, according to Radio Farda, the Persian-language affiliate of the US-based Radio Liberty.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the use of “lethal force” against protesters. “The use of tear gas and lethal force against protesters demanding clarification of the death of a woman in police custody reinforces the systemic nature of the authorities’ human rights abuses,” said HRW’s Iran researcher Tara Sepehri Far.

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The Tehran Police has come out on Monday to address the controversy and has assured that Amini’s death was an “unfortunate incident that we hope will not be repeated,” in the words of the commander of the Police in Greater Tehran, Sardar Hosein Rahimi, according to the Iranian news agency FARS.

He stressed that the Morality Police “is doing a positive job” and regretted that “dishonest accusations have been made against the police” after Amini’s death, which has triggered protests against the authorities in several parts of the country.

Rahimi has stressed that the woman was detained because of her dress, although he has qualified that “there was no dispute or resistance during her transfer.” “According to other people, she made jokes inside the police van,” he told a press conference.

In this sense, he has emphasized that “there was no negligence on the part of the Police, not even a small slip.” “The statements published in cyberspace about the cause of death are lies,” he has said, before asking the population “not to pay attention to rumors.”

However, Amini’s father, Amyad Amini, has claimed in statements to Kurdish-Iraqi Rudaw television that the videos allegedly showing his daughter fainting are “lies” and “censorship,” as Amini was beaten by the officers.

“She was not sick, as Iranian TV says,” said Amyad Amini, who claims that the authorities have refused to give her the autopsy of her daughter. “She was beaten inside the police vehicle and at the police station, but they don’t want to release the security camera footage,” he added.

“It is not clear how she was beaten. The women who were in the ambulance say she had a blow to the head,” she has explained. In addition, the family has asked for an expert to examine the girl’s body, without being given any answer, he has explained.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke to the family by phone on Sunday and expressed his condolences and promised them a thorough investigation to clarify what happened. “I told President Ebrahim Raisi that the footage shown on national television was nothing but lies, that it was censored,” Amyad Amini said.

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Amini was arrested in Tehran when she was with her brother for “improper” wearing of the hijab. The intervention is attributed to agents of the Guidance Patrol or Morality Police, in charge of ensuring respect for dress codes, which usually results in the arrest of women, although some men have also been arrested.

Moral Police have shown security camera footage of the moment the woman entered the police station, according to IRNA. In addition, he has assured that according to a first investigation “there was no physical contact with her either in the car or on the spot.”

The family was informed that the woman was taken to a Morality Police headquarters for “an education and orientation class.” After two hours of waiting in front of the Moral Police station, her brother discovered that the woman had been taken by ambulance to a hospital. During that time he and other witnesses could hear screams and several women leaving the scene said that “they have killed someone”.

“Mahsa Aminis should never have been arrested. Abuses by the Morality Police must be abolished and laws on the compulsory wearing of the hijab and others contrary to women’s rights must be repealed immediately,” HRW’s Tara Sepehri Far has reiterated.

The European Union, for its part, has called Amini’s death “unacceptable.” “What happened to him is unacceptable and the perpetrators of this murder must be held accountable,” said EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano in a statement.

“It is imperative” that the Iranian authorities “respect the fundamental rights of their citizens,” Stano added. It must also be monitored that “those under any form of detention are not subjected to any form of ill-treatment,” he said.

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