A 22-year-old woman has died in an Iranian hospital days after she was detained by the regime’s vice squad for allegedly failing to comply with the country’s hijab regulations.
Mahsa Amini was traveling with her family from Iran’s western Kurdistan province to the capital Tehran to visit relatives when she was allegedly arrested for not following the country’s strict rules on women’s clothing.
Witnesses reported that Amini was beaten in the police van, a claim the police deny.
The news comes weeks after the hardline of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi ordered a crackdown on women’s rights and called for stricter enforcement of the country’s mandatory dress code, which requires all women to wear hijab head coverings since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Amini’s family was informed that she had been taken to hospital hours after her arrest. She was transferred to an intensive care unit at Kasra Hospital.
According to Hrana, an Iranian human rights organization, Amini’s family was told during her arrest that she would be released after a “re-education session”.
Police later said that Amini had suffered a heart attack. However, Amini’s family disputed this, saying she was healthy and had no health problems.
Amini was in a coma after arriving at the hospital, her family said, adding that hospital staff had told them she was brain dead.
Photos are circulating on social media of Amini lying in a coma in the hospital bed with bandages on her head and breathing tubes.
Her hospitalization and death were condemned by Iranian celebrities and politicians. Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist politician and former MP, called on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to speak out on Amini’s case.
“What does the supreme leader, who rightly indicted the US police over the death of George Floyd, say about the treatment of Mahsa Amini by the Iranian police?” Sadeghi tweeted on Friday.
The Interior Ministry and Tehran’s Prosecutor opened an investigation into the case following an order from Raisi, state media reported.
Raisi signed a decree on August 15 that restricts women’s clothing and imposes tougher penalties for violating the strict code, both publicly and online.
Women have been arrested across the country after the national “Day of Hijab and Chastity” was declared on July 12. One of the women was Sepideh Rashno, a writer and artist who was allegedly beaten and tortured in custody before being forced to apologize on television.
Human rights groups have reported that additional security forces have been deployed outside the hospital in Kasra.