A United Nations fact-finding mission looking at the death of Jina Mahsa Amini in Iran in 2022 and the subsequent protests and crackdown in the country said both that physical trauma suffered in detention contributed to Amini’s death and that Iran employed “unnecessary and disproportionate use of lethal force” to quell the protests that followed.

The 22-year-old Iranian Kurd died in the custody of the so-called “morality police,” having been detained for not covering her hair in accordance with Iran’s religious laws. Her death prompted rare, widespread protests against the authoritarian regime.

Iran has always denied being responsible for Amini’s death and said she was not beaten in custody. Authorities have sometimes pointed to a medical condition Amini had developed after a childhood surgery. 

But the UN report said it was convinced Amini had been struck while in custody and that this led to her death. 

The panel “has established the existence of evidence of trauma to Ms. Amini’s body, inflicted while in the custody of the morality police,” the report says. The text stops short, however, of blaming any particular person or group for this physical trauma.

“Based on the evidence and patterns of violence by the morality police in the enforcement of the mandatory hijab on women, the mission is satisfied that Ms. Amini was subjected to physical violence that led to her death,” it said. 

Protetsters on the streets of the Iranian capital, Tehran
Amini’s death sparked rare, nationwide protetsts in Iran. Many of them involved young women uncovering their hair.Image: Zuma/picture alliance

2022 Iran protests ‘unprecedented’ for female and youth involvement, and violent crackdown

The report also found that Iran had employed “unnecessary and disproportionate use of lethal force” in putting down nationwide demonstrations that followed Amini’s death, adding that Iranian security forces had sexually assaulted detainees.

“The security forces played on social and cultural stigma connected to sexual and gender-based violence to spread fear and humiliate and punish women, men and children,” the report found.

More than 500 people were killed over the course of the demonstrations, with more than 22,000 arrested. 

Government authorities in the Islamic theocracy have yet to comment on the panel’s findings.

Though the report will not affect Iran’s repressive religious regime, it is yet another cudgel with which to hammer Iran publicly. 

The report called the protests that erupted after Amini’s death “unprecedented because of the leadership of women and youth, in their reach and longevity and, ultimately, the state’s violent response.”

The report said Iranian authorities used shotguns, assault rifles and submachine guns against protestors and pointed to a pattern of protesters being intentionally shot in the eye, saying this practice permanently scarred citizens, effectively branding them as protesters.

The investigative panel says it will continue its research into the death of another teen, Armita Garavand, who died after being attacked for not wearing a hijab in public. As with Amini’s death, the panel says it has seen a pattern in which “state authorities took measures to obfuscate the circumstances leading to Ms. Garavand’s death.”

A crowd of demonstrators in Mahabad City, Iran, gather at night to protest the death of Jina Mahsa Amini
The UN report found Iran’s regime had committed crimes against humanity in putting down protestsImage: Middle East Images/picture alliance

Panel says Iran’s response to protest amounted to crimes against humanity

The UN fact-finding mission on Friday said Iran’s response to the mass protests at the time amounted to “crimes against humanity — specifically those of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, forced disappearance and other inhumane acts.”

“These acts form part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Iran, namely against women, girls, boys and men who have demanded freedom, equality, dignity and accountability,” according to Sara Hossain, chairperson of the three-member mission.

“We urge the government to immediately halt the repression of those who have engaged in peaceful protests, in particular women and girls,” said Hossain, who added that people as young as 10 had been detained alongside others arrested for honking their horns or even dancing.

Moreover, the panel, with whom the Iranian government refused to work, said Tehran had arbitrarily executed nine demonstrators between December 2022 and January 2024.

In conclusion, the report stated, “Pervasive and deep-rooted structural and institutionalized discrimination against women and girls… was both a trigger and an enabler of the widespread serious human rights violations and crimes under international law.”

“Given the gravity of its findings, the mission urges the Iranian authorities to halt all executions and immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily arrested and detained in the context of the protests or for non-compliance with or advocacy against the mandatory hijab,” the panel wrote.

It also urged countries to pursue legal accountability outside Iran as well as granting asylum to Iranian citizens fleeing persecution.

The report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 15.

What’s behind Iran’s ‘woman, life, freedom’ protests?

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

js/msh (AFP, AP)


Source link