The father of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman whose death in Iran’s police custody has caused a wave of protests across the country, on Thursday accused the authorities of lying.
In an interview with the BBC, Amjad Amini stated that he was not allowed to see his daughter’s autopsy report and again denied that Mahsa was ill.
His daughter died in a hospital in Tehran on Friday (16), after spending three days in a coma. She had been detained days earlier by a kind of morals police for allegedly breaking the rules by not wearing a veil covering her head – the hijab and traditional among Muslims.
According to her father’s report to the BBC, Amini’s brother Kiarash was with her at the time of the arrest and learned from witnesses that she had been beaten in the van and at the police station.
“My son begged them not to take her, but he was also beaten, his clothes were torn off. I asked them to show me the body cameras of the security guards, they told me the cameras were out of battery,” said the father.
Iranian authorities dispute this version, claiming that Amini was not mistreated but suffered “sudden heart failure” while in custody. Last week, officials called her death an “unfortunate incident”.
Her father also said that he was prevented by medical staff several times from seeing his daughter’s body after her death. “They wouldn’t let me in,” he said.
Since the young woman’s death, protests have taken to the streets of the country. On Thursday, protesters in Tehran and other cities set fire to police stations and cars, in evidence that public outrage shows no signs of abating.
The demonstrations are reprimanded by security forces, who use tear gas to disperse protesters and make arrests. The toll of the clashes so far is more than 30 dead, according to the NGO Human Rights of Iran.
In Iran, after the 1979 Revolution, which gave way to a theocratic regime, the law began to state that women are obliged to cover their hair with a veil and to wear baggy clothes to cover the shape of their bodies. Those who break the rule face public reprimands, fines and even imprisonment.
The law has never ceased to be questioned, despite repression. Over the past few months, human rights activists have been influencing women to publicly remove their veils in protest against the dress code, which has angered government officials and security agents, who say the act constitutes immoral behavior.
Also on Thursday, the United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s moral police and army, accusing the government of abuse and violence against women and violating the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters, the US Treasury said.