• Democracy,
  • Fundamental rights,
  • Gender equality,
  • iran,
  • Women's rights

Regarding the death in custody of Mahsa Amini – detained by Iran’s “morality police” enforcing strict hijab rules – and the violent response by security forces to the ongoing protests, Left MEP Cornelia Ernst, Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iran, stated:

“I strongly call on the Iranian government to ensure an impartial and effective investigation of Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment by an independent competent authority that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to truth and justice. I’m alarmed by the reported unnecessary or disproportionate use of force against protesters. I urge Iranian officials to immediately stop the violence against protesters, which have already resulted in at least 9 reported deaths since 16 September. I urge the authorities in Iran to allow the people to exercise their right to protest without the threat of arbitrary arrest, physical violence, or death.”

Cornelia Ernst added: “I’m appalled by the ongoing repression of women for objecting to compulsory veiling and urge the Iranian Government to respect the freedom of Iranian women to choose their own dress code. It’s high time to repeal all discriminatory laws and regulations that impose mandatory hijab.”

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman from the Kurdish minority, was with her brother in Tehran when she was arrested on 13 September for what was perceived to be “improper” hijab. She fell into a coma shortly after collapsing at Vozara Detention Centre. Amini, who also goes by the Kurdish name Jhina, died three days later. There are reports Amini was beaten on the head with a baton, and her head was banged against a vehicle by the so-called morality police. Authorities have stated that she died of natural causes.

In recent months, the morality police have expanded street patrols, subjecting women perceived to be wearing “loose hijab” to verbal and physical harassment and arrest. Thousands have taken to the streets in a number of cities across the country, including in Tehran, Isfahan, Karaj, Mashhad, Rasht, Saqqes and Sanandaj, in protests against Amini’s death. Security forces have reportedly responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas. At least 9 people have reportedly been killed and several injured, and a number have been arrested.

On Tuesday 4 October, there will be a statement on behalf of the European Commission, followed by a debate in plenary. MEPs will vote on a joint motion for a resolution on Thursday. 

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