Alarm over Iranian woman’s death after ‘improper’ hijab arrest
The acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif, expressed alarm on Tuesday at the death in custody in Iran of a woman after she was detained for wearing an “improper” hijab
Mahsa Amini was arrested a week ago by Iran’s “morality police” in Teheran. The 22-year-old, whose Kurdish name is Jhina - fell into a coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre, and died three days later, officially of a heart attack.
In Geneva, Spokesperson for the UN rights office OHCHR, Ravina Shamdasani, said that there was also deep concern at the violent response of Iran’s security forces to protests sparked by Ms. Amini’s death.
She noted that 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 Ms. Amini’s death.
“Security forces have reportedly responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and teargas”, she told journalists. “At least two people have reportedly been killed and several injured, and a number have been arrested.”
Ms. Shamdasani also highlighted that legislation had been passed in Iran allowing police to send text messages to women in their cars, telling them to not to take off their hijabs while driving.
Hijab ‘rules should not exist’
“The bottom line is that these rules should not exist, women should not be punished for what they are wearing”, she said.
“Women who defy these compulsory veiling rules should not be harassed, should not be subjected to violence and there needs to be a fair investigation.”
Prompt, impartial investigation needed
Ms. Nashif said the 22 year-old’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 acting rights chief also condemned the reported unnecessary or disproportionate use of force against those protesting the Kurdish woman’s death, inside Vozara Detention Centre, and called on Iran – a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to respect the right to peacefully exercise freedom of expression, assembly and association.
Ms. Al-Nashif also echoed previous concerns voiced by UN Secretary-General António Guterres over the ongoing repression of women human rights defenders, who object to compulsory veiling.