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Iranians Protest Mahsa Amini's Death Amid Growing Calls for Accountability

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A man views a newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police" in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 18, 2022. (Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters)

Iranians gathered in multiple cities to protest the treatment of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died last week, days after she was detained by the country’s morality police for violating the dress code.

The demonstrations drew crowds in Tehran, Mashhad and Esfehan, as well as cities in Kurdish areas of western Iran, including Marivan, Divandarreh and Amini’s hometown of Saghghez.

Protesters chanted slogans and, in some areas, blocked streets as they called for justice for Amini.

FILE - A screenshot of video circulating on social media purports to show women in Saghez, Iran, removing their headscarves in protest against the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by morality police enforcing strict hijab rules.
FILE - A screenshot of video circulating on social media purports to show women in Saghez, Iran, removing their headscarves in protest against the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by morality police enforcing strict hijab rules.

Demonstrators in Toronto, Canada held up pictures of Amini along with a sign that said “How many more lives?”

Amini was detained September 13 in Tehran and authorities announced her death three days later.

Police denied Amini was mistreated, saying she died of a heart attack. Her family said she had no history of heart problems.

Her father, Amjad Amini, told VOA Persian that authorities were insistent that her burial take place without delay, and that when the family went to the coroner’s office, he was shown “a sealed box with the body inside.”

“I have no idea what they have done to the body,” Amjad Amini said.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi ordered an investigation, and Iran’s judiciary said it began a probe.

Amjad Amini told VOA Persian he does not believe the government’s promises and that he wants “everyone to keep asking for accountability.”

“I am sure they are lying to me since the body of my daughter is gone. She is not coming back to life. I just want this never happen to anyone else,” he said.

International pressure

Outside of Iran, calls for accountability have grown in the days since Amini’s death, including protests in Los Angeles and in front of the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington.

“Mahsa Amini should be alive today,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted late Monday. “Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protest.”

Congressman Michael McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement to VOA Persian: “Mahsa Amini’s death at the hands of Iran’s so-called morality police over an alleged dress code violation is an outrage. Any regime that treats its citizens with such little regard should face serious consequences.”

Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted that he is outraged by Amini’s arrest and killing “under the guise of Iran’s draconian hijab law.”

“The morality police's horrifying actions are only the latest examples of the Iranian regime’s devastating oppression of women & all its citizens,” Menendez posted.

The morality police enforce a dress code that includes a requirement for women to wear headscarves in public.

France’s foreign ministry called Amini’s death “deeply shocking” and urged Iran to carry out a “transparent investigation.”

A spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that what happened to Amini “is unacceptable and the perpetrators of this killing must be held accountable.”

VOA Persian contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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