A young woman has died after falling into a coma following her detention by Iran’s morality police, state media have reported, sparking fury on social media.
Mahsa Amini, 22, had come to Tehran, from her hometown of Saqqez in Kurdistan province, with her family when she was detained by the specialist police unit that enforces the strict dress code that was made obligatory for women shortly after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
“Unfortunately, she died and her body was transferred to the medical examiner’s office,” state television reported on Friday. The announcement came a day after Tehran police confirmed Amini had been detained with other women for “instruction” about the rules.
“She suddenly suffered a heart problem while in the company of others receiving guidance [and] was immediately taken to hospital with the cooperation of the emergency services,” it said.
President Ebrahim Raisi ordered the interior minister to open an inquiry into the case.
Several lawmakers said they would raise the case in parliament, while the judiciary said it would form a special task force to investigate
Reacting to the incident, human rights organisation Amnesty International said, “The circumstances leading to the suspicious death in custody of 22-year-old young woman Mahsa Amini, which include allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, must be criminally investigated.”
“The so-called ‘morality police’ in Tehran arbitrarily arrested her three days before her death while enforcing the country’s abusive, degrading and discriminatory forced veiling laws. All agents and officials responsible must face justice,” it added.
Amini’s death comes amid growing controversy both inside and outside Iran over the conduct of the morality police, known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrol).
In July, a video of a woman standing in front of one of the forces’ vans pleading for her daughter’s release went viral on social media. The veiled woman tried to keep holding on to the van as it pulled off, only being thrown clear after it gathered speed.