Armita Geravand, a teenage girl from Iran, reportedly fell into a coma after an alleged altercation with the nation’s morality police over her choice not to wear a headscarf. This incident occurred just a few weeks after Iran introduced stringent legislation imposing severe penalties on women who violate the country’s already strict hijab regulations.
State-affiliated Tasnim news agency reported that despite the best efforts of medical professionals, Armita’s condition has been confirmed as brain dead. The Norway-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights stated that Armita was “assaulted” by the morality police, leading to her coma. Another opposition platform, IranWire, mentioned that she was admitted to the hospital due to “head trauma.”
Iranian officials have refuted these claims, suggesting that Armita’s hospitalization was a result of an injury stemming from low blood pressure. However, statements from Armita’s friends and family in interviews with state media have echoed these denials. It remains uncertain whether these testimonies were given under duress. In the past, UN officials and human rights organizations have accused Iranian authorities of pressuring the families of deceased protestors to support the government’s narrative.
In a related development, Iran’s parliament passed a “hijab bill” concerning clothing regulations, violations of which could lead to a decade-long imprisonment. This legislation was introduced following the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish-Iranian woman who reportedly died after being detained by the notorious morality police for not adhering to the nation’s conservative dress code.
On a recent Sunday, two journalists who initially reported on Amini’s death were imprisoned by Iranian authorities. Niloofar Hamedi, associated with the reformist Shargh newspaper, received a 13-year prison sentence. Elaheh Mohammadi, from the reformist Ham-Mihan newspaper, was handed a 12-year sentence on similar charges.
Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, commented that these convictions are a blatant reminder of the diminishing freedom of speech in Iran and the government’s desperate attempts to criminalize journalism.