An Iranian organization asks the UN to investigate whether the police attacked an unveiled teenager who is in a coma | International

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The Iranian human rights organization in exile Iran Human Rights (IHR) has called for an independent international investigation into “the events that led to the hospitalization” of a 16-year-old girl who has been admitted in a coma to the military hospital since last Sunday. Tehran Fajr. According to other Iranian human rights groups, the 16-year-old teenager, identified as Armita Geravand, ended up in the intensive care unit of that center after a violent altercation with morality police officers who scolded her for not wearing a veil. and they pushed her against a metal bar in the capital's subway, with which she hit her head. The Iranian authorities attribute the young woman's condition to a faint caused by lipothymia.

On Sunday, a working day in Iran, the young woman, an art student, entered the Shohada metro station in Tehran early in the morning to go to her classes with two high school classmates. As seen in the subway videos broadcast by the official IRNA agency, none of the three young women had their hair covered. In the images taken by one of the platform cameras, the three girls enter a car and, almost immediately afterwards, Armita Geravand's friends are seen taking her unconscious from the car.

In these unclear images it is not possible to see that the young woman is attacked, but neither is it possible to see how she faints, as the official version claims. Iranian human rights organizations maintain that the video has been edited – they claim that several seconds are missing from the footage. Iranian authorities have not released the recordings from inside the car.

Another human rights organization, the Kurdish Hengaw, has highlighted that the young woman was later transferred to a “maximum security” military hospital, the Fajr in Tehran, and that the phones of all her family members were confiscated. IHR has stressed, for its part, how the official Iranian media “have not published the images of the entrance [de la joven] at the subway station, about her boarding the train and the events that led her to faint inside the car. And all subway and train stations are equipped with video surveillance cameras. “The refusal to publish the images only increases doubts about the official version.”

Both IHR and other NGOs have reproduced testimonies from doctors indicating that fainting due to a drop in blood pressure is unlikely to cause a blow to the head so severe as to leave a person in a coma. Lipothymias usually begin with dizziness, which the affected person perceives, so they usually sit down or seek stability by holding on to something. Those who suffer from lipothymia feel their legs weaken, after which they collapse on themselves, as professionals explain.

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“Given that the Islamic Republic has a long history of distorting facts and concealing evidence of its crimes, an independent international investigation is crucial to establishing the details. The international community must support such an investigation by pressuring the authorities of the Islamic Republic to accept a UN fact-finding mission,” stressed IHR, an organization based in Oslo.

When asked by this newspaper, the Iranian Embassy in Spain assures that “what happened” to this young woman “is an event that can occur anywhere in the world, but unfortunately it seems that the incident is going to be politicized again.” “We are witnessing, once again, an attempt to politicize a simple accident. “We believe that the facts should be taken into account and not so much the media waves or political blackmail,” she adds.

Two very similar cases

Like numerous activists and NGOs, IHR has highlighted the striking similarity of this case with that of the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish girl Mahsa Yina Amini, on September 16, 2022. Amini died in the custody of the morality police, after being detained three days before leaving the Tehran metro. The agents had accused her of not wearing her mandatory veil properly. What happened to Amini triggered the worst wave of protests against the Iranian regime in recent years. More than 500 people died in the following months due to the crackdown, according to IHR. At least 22,000 were arrested and seven young men were executed.

Hengaw has released a leaked image of a young woman whose appearance corresponds to that of Armita Geravand's previous photographs, apparently connected to a mechanical ventilator and with her head bandaged. That photograph is very similar to those that were leaked of Amini intubated, after being detained in September 2022. Armita, originally from the western province of Kermanshah, is also Kurdish, according to that NGO.

Human rights organizations have highlighted other parallels. As happened after Amini's hospitalization, journalists who have tried to cover the case have been subject to harassment. On Monday, a reporter from a reformist newspaper, the Shargh Dailywas detained for a few hours for having gone to the Fajr hospital to report the case of Armita Geravand, always according to sources.

These similarities explain for Iranian activists the zeal with which the Iranian authorities are trying to deny the alleged aggression of the teenager by the morality police, a case that is already having an international echo. This Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote: “Once again a young woman in #Iran fight for his life. Just because she showed her hair on the subway. She is unbearable ".

“More than a year after the state assassination of Yina (Mahsa) Amini and the start of the 'Women, Life, Freedom' movement, the Islamic Republic continues its harassment and repression of women under the pretext of fighting rape of the mandatory hijab. The international community must not tolerate the gender apartheid of the Islamic Republic,” IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam stressed in a statement.


The Iranian opposition media in exile Iran International and the aforementioned NGOs have expressed their suspicions that the parents of the young woman in a coma were forced to endorse the official version under threats. Two days after the event, on October 3, the IRNA agency released an interview with them in which the mother stammers while seeming to swallow back tears: “I think they said that her blood pressure dropped and that her head hit the edge of the subway when fall to the ground...".

The NGO Hengaw maintains that the authorities prevent the family from accompanying the young woman to the hospital, which is “taken over by the security forces.” This Thursday, this organization reported that the teenager's mother was arrested on Wednesday night after she was prevented from accessing her daughter's room. The semi-official Tasnim agency, linked to the parallel army of the Revolutionary Guard, has later denied this.

In the note in response to questions from EL PAÍS, the Iranian Embassy in Spain denies that these parents have been forced to support the official version: “There is no reason to force relatives to give interviews; it's stupid. The images from the metro cameras have even been published on social networks. They can be easily consulted on the internet.”

The IRNA agency has released interviews with the two friends who accompanied Armita on the day of the event. The two girls repeated the authorities' version. According to the aforementioned Iranian NGOs, both they and the students and teachers at the coma teenager's institute have suffered threats from the security forces.

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