Written by Bushra Bani-Salman
September 26, 2022
Jina Mahsa Amini was a 22 year old Kurdish woman from East Kurdistan/ Western Iran visiting Tehran with her family when she was taken into custody by the morality police for allegedly violating the government’s modesty policies. Iran has had a mandatory hijab and loose-clothing policy for all women in Iran, regardless of religion or nationality, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Amini died in police custody after three days in comatose. Security officials claim she suffered a heart attack, but her family rejected the claim, saying it did not explain her bodily injuries. Activists claim Amini was beaten in custody. President Ebrahim Raisi responded by calling Amini’s family and promising an investigation to determine the cause of her death.
Women in Iran took to the streets in outrage, taking off their hijabs, burning hijabs, and even cutting their hair in opposition to the Iranian government’s compulsory policies. Women all over the world have shown solidarity by raising awareness, protesting, and also cutting their hair on camera, using the hashtag #MahsaAmini that has gone viral on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Amini’s death has sparked country-wide outrage not just from frustrations with women’s rights and autonomy abuses but also political grievances with economic policy, police brutality, and discrimination. Authorities have restricted access to the internet in an attempt to decrease public dissent on social media. Vague promises of reform were also made by authorities in an attempt to calm demonstrations.
According to human rights groups, more than 450 Kurdish people in Amini’s province were injured, and more than 500 were arrested for protesting. The number of casualties is still unclear due to the internet restrictions. Security officials have also clashed with mostly peaceful protesters, using rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, and real ammunition against protesters. Some protesters have targeted security forces, with one police officer dying from severe injuries. Authorities warned they would further suppress the demonstrations if they continued.
United States and United Nations officials have condemned the Iranian government’s policies and countermeasures against protests. President Raisi accused the West of having a “double standard” on human rights at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.
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