Mahsa Amini’s father says Iran’s authorities are lying about her death as protests rage



CNN

The father of an Iranian woman who died in police custody last week has accused authorities of lying about her death, as protests rage nationwide despite the government’s attempt to curb dissent with an internet blackout.

Amjad Amini, whose daughter Mahsa died after being arrested in Tehran by morality police, said doctors had refused to see his daughter after her death.

Iranian officials have claimed that she died after suffering a “heart attack” and falling into a coma, but her family has said that she had no pre-existing heart disease, according to Emtedad news, an Iranian pro-reform media outlet. Public skepticism over the officials’ account of her death has sparked an outpouring of anger that has spilled over into deadly protests.

“They lie. They tell lies. Everything is a lie … no matter how much I begged, they wouldn’t let me see my daughter,” Amjad Amini told BBC Persia on Wednesday.

When he saw his daughter’s body lying after her burial, it was completely wrapped except for her feet and face – although he noticed bruises on her feet. “I have no idea what they did to her,” he said.

CNN could not independently verify his account with hospital officials.

CCTV footage released by Iran’s state media showed Mahsa Amini collapsing at a “re-education” center where she was taken by morality police to receive “counseling” about her clothing.

Her death has sparked an outpouring of anger that has snowballed to include issues ranging from freedoms in the Islamic Republic to the crippling economic impact of sanctions.

Protests and deadly clashes with police have broken out in cities and towns across Iran, despite attempts by authorities to limit the spread of demonstrations through internet blackouts.

Mobile networks are largely shut down and access to Instagram and Whatsapp are restricted, internet watchdog Netblocks said on Wednesday evening.

There was a near-total disruption of internet access in parts of Iran’s western Kurdistan province as of Monday evening, and regional blackouts in other parts of the country, including Sanandaj and Tehran.

This comes after Iran’s communications minister warned there could be internet disruptions “for security purposes and discussions related to recent events,” according to the country’s semi-official ISNA news agency.

The last time Iran saw such a severe blackout was when authorities tried to contain mass protests in late 2019, after fuel prices rose by as much as 300%.

At the time, Iran was taken almost completely offline — what Oracle’s Internet Intelligence called the “largest Internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”

This week, several Iranian state government websites – including the official sites of the president and of Iran’s Central Bank – were also offline, with the hacker collective Anonymous claiming responsibility.

Dozens of people organize a demonstration to protest the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, Iran, on September 21.

“(Greetings) Citizens of Iran. This is a message from Anonymous to all of Iran. We are here and we are with you,” tweeted a social media account associated with the group on Tuesday.

“We support your determination for peace against brutality and massacres. We know that your determination does not come from revenge, but from your longing for justice. All tyrants will fall before your courage. Long live free Iranian women.

The hacker collective also claimed responsibility for temporarily taking down the website of Iran’s state media news agency Fars early Wednesday morning, according to a tweet by Anonymous. The website has since come back online.

Violent repression does not slow down protest against Iran’s morality police

At least eight people, including a teenager, have been killed in the past few days due to clashes during the protests, according to the human rights group Amnesty International.

At least four of those eight “died from injuries sustained by security forces firing metal pellets at close range,” Amnesty said in a report published Wednesday.

Four others were shot by security forces, Amnesty said, citing sources in Iran. It added that eyewitness accounts and video analysis show a pattern of “Iranian security forces illegally and repeatedly firing metal pellets directly at protesters.”

Riot police were mobilized to disperse protesters in the capital Tehran on Wednesday night, and were seen arresting several people, according to witnesses who did not want to be named for security reasons.

A bin burned in the middle of an intersection during a protest in Tehran, Iran, on September 20.

Riot police deployed tear gas, with a “heavy-handed crackdown” at the University of Tehran, an eyewitness said.

Another eyewitness in the city’s eastern district said protesters were heard shouting “Death to the dictator,” a reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader, and “I kill anyone who killed my sister,” referring to Amini.

Videos of nationwide protests show people destroying posters of the Supreme Leader, and women burning their hijabs and cutting off their hair in a symbolic show of defiance.

CNN has contacted the police and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which joined riot police in Tehran on Wednesday night, for comment. They have not issued a statement on the demonstrations or on the handling of the protests by law enforcement.

International activists and leaders have also expressed concern about the protests and alleged police violence.

The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that Sweden stands with Iranians mourning Amini, and demanded that authorities respect their right to peaceful protest. Germany also called on Iranian authorities to “allow peaceful demonstrations and, above all, not to use further violence” during a press conference on Wednesday.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary Tariq Ahmad said Britain was “extremely concerned by reports of serious ill-treatment of Ms Amini, and many others, by the security forces.”

“The use of violence in response to the expression of fundamental rights, by women or any other members of Iranian society, is completely unjustifiable,” the statement said.