On Tuesday night, a young women was taken to Tehran’s Kasra Hospital with severe injuries and brain damage sustained in a clash with the “morality patrol”. The news was posted on social media the next morning.
The woman was 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, IranWire has learned. A native of Saghez in the Iranian province of Kurdistan, she had been abducted off the street earlier that night and beaten up at a police station in Vozara Avenue where dozens of other women were being held.
Mahsa and her family had come to the capital for a pleasure trip. At 6.30 she and her brother were at the entrance to the Shahid Haghani Expressway when a morality patrol van blocked their path.
Agents grabbed Mahsa and forced her inside. Her brother, Kiarash, tried to intervene but his arm was twisted behind his back. After he disentangled himself, they told him they were taking Mahsa to the station and she would be released after a one-hour “re-education class”.
What happened was different, he said: “When I got to the front of the building, there were 60 or 70 people there carrying clothes for the detained women inside. After a few of them were released, we suddenly heard screams.
“All of us were banging on the doors. All of a sudden the agents rushed out of the building and attacked us with batons and teargas. My whole body is black and blue and my eyes have been burning since last night. Five minutes later an ambulance left the building.”
As the women came running out, Kiarash said, “Every one of them said somebody inside had been killed.” With a lump in his throat, he told IranWire: “I showed Mahsa’s picture to the women. One of them said Mahsa was next to her when it happened.
“I was shocked, and terrified. I asked one of the soldiers what had happened. He said ‘One of our own soldiers has been injured.’ He was lying. I didn’t believe him. It was Mahsa in that ambulance. I ran until I reached Kasra Hospital.”
At 20:17 on Tuesday, doctors told the family that Mahsa could not be saved. They said she had suffered a heart attack and a stroke, and although her heart continued to beat, her brain was no longer functioning.
“It took two hours from her arrest until when her body was taken away,” Kiarash said.
“Nothing Left to Lose”
After news of Mahsa’s coma was reported on social media, security forces were dispatched to the hospital. Since Tuesday night her family have also been under police surveillance, which has been noticeable, even though a police officer in the hospital promised it was Mahsa’s attacker – not them – that would be investigated.
Kiarash also went to the courthouse in Tehran to file a formal complaint. “I will pursue it,” he said, “but you know how the system works. They gave me a letter and told me to go to the headquarters in Vozara Avenue to register my complaint there. It’s like asking my father to name the murderer if I killed someone in our house.
“But I won’t allow this to end in silence. I will tell everyone in Iran what happened.”
Staff have allowed Kiarash in to visit the room where his sister is lying comatose. But he was stopped from taking pictures. “Mahsa’s face is swollen,” he said, “and her legs are bruised. I have nothing more to lose now. I’m being followed by police on the ground floor of this building and my sister is lying up there.”
Covering Up a Crime
Tehran Police issued a statement on Thursday claiming Mahsa had suffered a medical problem. The force said: “A woman was led to a precinct of Greater Tehran Police for education and guidance when suddenly she suffered a heart problem while she was among others also there for guidance.
“With the cooperation of police and emergency services, this woman was immediately taken to the hospital, where she is being treated and is cared for.” The statement also claimed she had not been beaten, calling reports to this effect “the claims of hostile media”.
In the past few months, Iran’s state-sponsored morality patrols have stepped up their presence in major cities, harassing and snatching women off the streets over their choice of clothing. Far less is known about what other crimes are committed against women at the patrols’ bases and detention centers. In a normal state of affairs Mahsa’s case would shine a light on it.