A 16-year-old girl has been hospitalized following an incident on public transportation, igniting fresh outrage and accusations against the country’s morality police, one year after widespread unrest shook the nation.
Alleged Assault Sparks Outrage and Accusations Against Morality Police
Armita Geravand was subjected to a “severe physical assault” by government agents on Sunday, allegedly for breaching Iran’s stringent Islamic dress code, as reported by a prominent Kurdish rights group.
Social Media Echoes Mahsa Amini’s Tragic Case
This incident has garnered extensive attention on social media, drawing parallels to the case of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in custody after being detained by the morality police last year, sparking mass protests.
Official Denial and Security Footage Raise Questions
Authorities, speaking through state-run media, have refuted allegations of any physical confrontation and claimed that Geravand fainted due to low blood pressure. State-run media has released security footage from a Tehran subway station, but crucial details about what transpired inside the train remain unclear, fueling public anger.
Tehran’s Response and Accusations of Insincere Concern
Tehran authorities have dismissed growing global outrage, accusing Western nations of “insincere concern.”
Limited Verification of Video Footage From Morality Police
Video footage, broadcast by state-run news agencies, appears to show a girl with uncovered short black hair entering a train and subsequently being dragged unconscious onto the platform. The authenticity of the footage cannot be independently verified as it is grainy, edited, and does not reveal the cause of her collapse inside the train.
Rights Group Allegations and Hospital Security Measures
Hengaw, an Iranian-Kurdish rights group based in Norway, claimed that the 16-year-old was assaulted by officers enforcing the mandatory hijab and alleged that she fell into a coma on Sunday. The group shared a photo on social media of Geravand in a hospital bed at an air force hospital’s intensive care unit, stating that strict security measures had been imposed around the hospital and her family.
Reports of Heavy Security Presence Around Hospital
Reuters, citing two unnamed prominent rights activists in Iran, reported a heavy presence of security forces around the hospital, but this information has not been independently verified by NBC News.
Official Account vs. Family and Classmates’ Statements
Authorities have publicly stated that the security footage suggests Geravand fell to the ground due to low blood pressure, with no signs of a physical altercation, according to the head of the Tehran Metro, Masoud Dorosti. Geravand’s parents echoed this narrative in a video posted online by the state-run news agency IRNA, asserting that their daughter experienced a drop in blood pressure, fainted, and hit her head. IRNA published interviews with two girls, identified by their first names and as Geravand’s classmates, who also claimed she fell and hit her head without being pushed. Human rights groups have frequently accused Iranian authorities of coercing statements from individuals under duress in such incidents.
The alleged attack on Geravand has triggered international condemnation:
- The United States expressed shock and concern about the incident, with Deputy Special for Iran Abram Paley stating that they are closely monitoring her condition. He also condemned the arrest of a journalist investigating the assault as an affront to journalistic freedoms.
- German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock voiced her distress, emphasizing that a young woman in Iran is fighting for her life merely because she revealed her hair on the subway.
- Iranian-American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad shared her grief and posted photos suggesting Geravand with a breathing tube in her mouth.
Iran’s Response and Accusations of Insincere Concern
Iran’s foreign ministry responded to the outcry by accusing the U.S., Britain, and Germany of “insincere concern,” redirecting the focus to healthcare issues in those countries.
A Year After Mahsa Amini: Ongoing Protests and Social Freedoms Struggles
This case echoes the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked a nationwide protest movement in Iran over the past year. While authorities have largely suppressed these protests and intensified efforts to enforce the Islamic dress code, many women continue to defy the state by going without headscarves in public, challenging the country’s restrictions on social freedoms and advocating for greater gender equality amid ongoing economic concerns.