PARIS — An Iranian girl, aged 16, has been left in a coma and is being treated in a hospital under heavy security after an assault on the Tehran subway, a rights group said on Tuesday (Oct 3), blaming the Islamic Republic’s notorious morality police.
The Kurdish-focused rights group Hengaw said the teenager, named as Armita Garawand, had been badly injured in a confrontation on the Tehran metro with female police officers.
This has already been denied by the Iranian authorities who say that the girl “fainted” due to low blood pressure and that there was no involvement of the security forces.
Iranian authorities remain on high alert for any upsurge of social tension just over a year after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress rules for women.
Her death sparked several months of protests that rattled Iran’s clerical leadership and only dwindled in the face of a crackdown that according to activists has seen thousands arrested and hundreds killed.
Hengaw said that Garawand was left with severe injuries after being apprehended and physically attacked by agents of the so-called morality police at the Shohada metro station in Tehran on Sunday.
It said she was being treated under tight security at Tehran’s Fajr hospital and “there are currently no visits allowed for the victim, not even from her family”.
The organisation later published a picture it said was of Garawand in her hospital bed, showing her head and neck heavily bandaged and attached to a feeding tube. “Her state of consciousness is unchanged”, it added.
Her parents gave an interview to Iranian state media at the hospital but “in the presence of high-ranking security officers” and “under considerable pressure”, Hengaw said.
Though a resident of Tehran, Garawand hails from the city of Kermanshah in Kurdish-populated western Iran, Hengaw said.
Ms Maryam Lotfi, a journalist from the Shargh daily newspaper, sought in the aftermath of the incident to visit the hospital but was immediately detained. She was subsequently released, it added.
The case has become the subject of intense discussion on social media, with a purported video of the incident said by some to show the teen, with friends and apparently unveiled, being pushed into the metro by female police agents and then an immobile body pulled out.
Mr Masood Dorosti, managing director of the Tehran subway system, denied there was “any verbal or physical conflict” between the student and “passengers or metro executives”.
“Some rumours about a confrontation with metro agents… are not true and CCTV footage refutes this claim,” Mr Dorosti told state news agency IRNA.
The IranWire news site, based outside Iran, cited a source as saying she had sustained a “head injury” after being pushed by the officers.
A year after Amini’s death, Iranian authorities have launched a renewed push to crack down on women defying the Islamic Republic’s strict dress rules for women, including the mandatory hijab.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said women and girls “face increased violence, arbitrary arrests and heightened discrimination after the Islamic Republic re-activated its forced-veiling police patrols”. AFP