The father of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman whose death in police custody last year sparked months of anti-government protests, tells VOA that plans are under way to commemorate the anniversary of his daughter's death.
"We are resolute in organizing the anniversary ceremony to pay tribute to the name and memory of Zhina [Mahsa], the martyr, the oppressed, the innocent girl, and for the happiness of her pure soul," Amjad Amini said in an exclusive interview with VOA’s Persian Service.
“It also provides solace for the family, relatives and all her supporters. However, given the current circumstances, we cannot formally extend invitations to the public or dissuade them from attending.”
Mahsa Amini had been detained by the morality police for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely. Iran saw months of anti-government protests after her death in police custody last September 16.
According to data from human rights organizations, Iran’s security forces killed nearly 600 people, including women and children, with several thousand more sustaining injuries during a crackdown on the protests. More than 20,000 Iranian citizens found themselves detained in the aftermath.
"Today, it's widely acknowledged that Mahsa doesn't belong exclusively to the Amini family. She is Iran's daughter, belonging to the entire nation. All those who cherish Mahsa are akin to her extended family. Thus, we will honor whatever choice the people make," her father told VOA.
In a written exchange with VOA correspondent Manouchehr Pordel, he said Iranian government officials "wish for us not to extend any invitations under any conditions and refrain from urging individuals to attend the ceremony.”
While discussing the legal aspects of his daughter's case, Amjad Amini said, "Up to this point, we haven't obtained any clear and persuasive responses. They've essentially reiterated their previous statements, which haven't been satisfactory for us or the public.”
Iranian police said Mahsa Amin had a heart attack while in custody, but her family disputes that claim. Iranian authorities have rejected the family's request for a committee of independent doctors to investigate her death.
In August, Amnesty International accused Iran of ramping up a campaign of harassment and intimidation against the families of those killed in last year’s protests. The group said it documented the cases of 36 victims’ families from 10 provinces across the country who have been subjected to human rights violations in recent months.