UN Experts Demand Accountability for Death of Mahsa Amini in Iran

Photo Created with Adobe Express
Photo Created with Adobe Express

A group of UN experts* on 22 September condemned the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after her arrest for allegedly failing to comply with Iran’s strict rules on women’s dress by wearing an “improper hijab”.

The experts also denounced the violence directed against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders demanding accountability for Amini’s death in cities across the country by Iranian security forces. They urged the Iranian authorities to avoid further unnecessary violence and to immediately stop the use of lethal force in policing peaceful assemblies.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Ms Amini. She is another victim of Iran’s sustained repression and systematic discrimination against women and the imposition of discriminatory dress codes that deprive women of bodily autonomy and the freedoms of opinion, expression and belief,” the experts said.

Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police on 13 September for being perceived as wearing an “improper hijab”. Reports indicate she was severely beaten by members of the morality police during her arrest and transfer to the Vozara Detention Centre.

Amini fell into a coma at the detention centre and died in hospital on 16 September. Iranian authorities said she died of a heart attack, and claimed her death was from natural causes. However, some reports suggested that Amini’s death was a result of alleged torture and ill-treatment, the experts said.

Since 16 September, thousands have taken to the streets in many cities, including Tehran, Ilam, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Mahabad, Saqez, Sanandaj, Sari and Tabriz to demand accountability for the death of Amini and to put an end to violence and discrimination against women in Iran, particularly compulsory veiling for women. 

The peaceful protests have been met with excessive use of force, including birdshot and other metal pellets by Iranian security forces, the experts said. According to reports, at least eight individuals, including a woman and a 16-year-old child, have been killed, dozens more injured and arrested.

Following the protests, prolonged internet disruptions have been reported in Tehran, Kurdistan provinces, and other parts of the country since 19 September. This is the third widespread internet shutdown recorded over the past 12 months in Iran.

“Over the past four decades, Iranian women have continued to peacefully protest against the compulsory hijab rules and the violations of their fundamental human rights,” the experts said, urging authorities in the country to heed the legitimate demands of women who want their fundamental human rights respected.

Iran is urged to repeal all legislation and policies that discriminate on the grounds of sex and gender, in line with international human rights standards.

*The experts: Mr. Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Melissa Upreti (Chair), Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, and Meskerem Geset Techane, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Ms. Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. 

Courtesy: UN Human Rights Office

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