Iran: Crisis of impunity as Armita Garavand’s murder prompts further crimes

Iran: Crisis of impunity as Armita Garavand’s murder prompts further crimes - Civic Space

On 29 October , security forces in Iran violently arrested dozens of people attending the burial of 17-year-old Armita Garavand, who died a day earlier after succumbing to injuries she had sustained after being assaulted by a member of the ‘morality’ patrol enforcing the country’s mandatory hijab law. ARTICLE 19  calls for the  immediate release of the detainees and an end to the ongoing impunity that those who violate human rights in Iran continue to enjoy.  The international community must support the people of Iran in working to ensure the Islamic Republic’s gender apartheid structures and policies are entirely dismantled. 

Armita Geravand collapsed when boarding a Tehran metro train on 1 October after allegedly being assaulted by a morality police officer. Video footage released by state media shows that at the time of the incident, the 17-year-old teenager was wearing her school uniform, but not a headscarf. Following her injuries she went into a coma and eventually died on 28 October.

A day later, the teenager was buried amid heavy security force presence, with her burial site being fenced off and surrounded by police in riot gear along with plain-clothes officers.

During the burial at least 62 people were beaten and violently arrested, including relatives of the killed teenager, prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, teachers’ rights activist Masoud Zeinalzadeh, and family members of other victims of state violence. One of the detainees, Manzar Zarabi, suffered a seizure due to the violence of security forces; she was later released. At least 30 people arrested during the funeral are still in detention and have been charged

According to state-affiliated media, human rights lawyer Sotoudeh was arrested because she removed her hijab and ‘disturbed ‘the mental security of the society’ by attending the killed teenager’s funeral not wearing a headscarf. Sotoudeh has been on hunger strike since her arrest. Given that she has serious underlying health conditions, her life is in danger.

‘Authorities of the Islamic Republic have again shown their lack of humanity by targeting the funeral of a teenage girl  whose only crime was to defy the regime’s cruel law to force women to wear the Islamic headscarf. Attacking and detaining activists showing solidarity with Armita Garavand and her family, and supporting their right to freedom of expression, reveals a regime  devoid of morality and willing to repress Iranians to maintain power at any cost,’ said Quinn McKew, Executive Director for ARTICLE 19. 

A year on after killing of Mahsa Jhina Amini

The killing of Amita Garavand comes one year on from the death in police custody of Mahsa Jhina Amini. Amini, who was 22,  was from Iran’s persecuted Kurdish ethnic minority, and was also violently arrested for allegedly violating mandatory hijab rules. Her death led to unprecedentedly widespread protests throughout Iran, the greatest existential threat the Islamic Republic had faced in its four decade rule. 

Since Amini’s funeral on 17 September 2022, the Islamic Republic has unleashed a brutal militarised crackdown against all forms of dissent. Its unlawful killing of hundreds of protesters and bystanders, including children, has been widely condemned by the international community. 

Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, has pointed to the ‘possible commission of international crimes, notably the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual violence, and persecution’ in relation to the authorities’ response to the uprising. 

ARTICLE 19 condemns the gender-related state violence leading to the death of 17-year-old Armita Garavand. Deadly and systematic violence against women and other marginalised communities under the pretext of “upholding hijab” must end now.

Authorities responsible for her death, including leaders of the Islamic Republic who have led and implemented such violent policies, must be held accountable. This crisis of impunity must end.

Authorities must immediately release all individuals, including activists, detained for attending the burial of killed teenager Armita Garavand. The regime must immediately end its wider campaign of terror and persecution targeting people demanding justice and accountability for victims of the state violence.

ARTICLE 19 also calls on the Islamic Republic to immediately dismantle the “morality police” and plain-clothes “hijab enforcers” who are responsible for the killing of Armita Garavand and for persecuting many other innocent people for alleged violations of oppressive hijab laws. 

We also demand an immediate end to the gender apartheid policies of the Islamic Republic that have no aim but subjugation of women and policing their bodies.

We also call on the international community to use all means at their disposal to hold the Islamic Republic accountable for its systemic and endemic human rights violations.

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