May 22, 2024

Iran is to blame for the “physical violence” that killed Mahsa Amini, whose death in custody in 2022 triggered massive peaceful protests led by women and girls against the country’s theocratic regime, a United Nations fact-finding mission said Friday.

The mission’s report also found that Iran committed crimes against humanity in its violent repression of the protests in 2022 and 2023, including “murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts.”

Demonstrators gather to protest over the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini (Cemal Yurttas / dia images via Getty Images)Demonstrators gather to protest over the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini (Cemal Yurttas / dia images via Getty Images)

Demonstrators gather to protest over the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini (Cemal Yurttas / dia images via Getty Images)

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, died Sept. 16, 2022, in a hospital after her arrest three days earlier by the country’s morality police for allegedly not adhering to the government’s mandatory rules on headscarves for women and clothing restrictions.

The fact-finding mission ”established the existence of evidence of trauma to Ms. Amini’s body, inflicted while in the custody of the morality police,” the report said.

“Based on the evidence and patterns of violence by the morality police in the enforcement of the mandatory hijab on women, the mission is satisfied that Ms. Amini was subjected to physical violence that led to her death. On that basis, the State bears responsibility for her unlawful death,” it said.

Instead of thoroughly and impartially investigating Amini’s death, the government obfuscated the truth, and sought to harass and intimidate her family “in order to silence them and pre-empt them from seeking legal redress,” according to the report from the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Iran has denied responsibility for Amini’s death and rejected accusations from human rights organizations, witnesses and foreign governments that it crushed peaceful protests with violence.

Iran’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.N. fact-finding team acknowledged that members of Iranian security forces were killed and injured in the street demonstrations, but found that the majority of the protests were peaceful.

“We urge the Iranian authorities to halt all executions and immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily arrested and detained in the context of the protests, and to end the repression of protesters, their families and supporters of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement,” Shaheen Sardar Ali, a member of the U.N. mission, said in a statement.

The report came after Iran held parliamentary elections March 1, in which hard-line candidates prevailed amid the lowest voter turnout in the Islamic Republic’s 45-year history. Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi and former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami endorsed a boycott of the vote.

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