On October 1, 2023, a sixteen-year-old Iranian girl named Armita Garawand fell into a coma and is receiving medical treatment in a heavily secured hospital following an altercation in Tehran’s metro. This incident has stirred outrage and allegations against the notorious morality police in the Islamic Republic.
The Kurdish-focused human rights group called Hengaw has accused female police officers of the Iranian Morality Police “Gasht -e-Ershad” of causing severe injuries to Armita Garawand during an encounter on the Tehran metro. However, the Iranian authorities have denied these allegations, saying that the girl fainted due to low blood pressure and there was no involvement of the security forces at all.
According to Kurdish Kurdish-focused Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights, the teen was subjected to a severe physical assault after being apprehended by the morality police at the Shohda metro station on October 1, 2023, for allegedly not wearing the Hijab properly. The victim, Garawand, is originally from Kermanshah, a Kurdish-dominated city in western Iran, but resides in Tehran.
According to the news site Iran Wire, which is based outside Iran, the student received a head injury after allegedly being pushed by the morality police officers. London-based Iranian journalist Farzad Seifikaran wrote on October 2, 2023, that a schoolgirl and her friends were stopped by the police fo allegedly not wearing the Hijabs. Seifikaran said that the girl was pushed down by the police, which led to her head being hit and losing consciousness.
Authorities, Parents Deny Assault
Iranian authorities have denied the assault and claimed that the teen had fainted due to loss or lack of Blood pressure, which resulted in Garawand hitting the side of the metro carriage, and they have denied any involvement of security forces. Masood Dorosti, the managing director of the Tehran subway system, claimed that there was not any kind of physical or verbal conflict between the teen and the morality police or metro executives.
“Some rumours about a confrontation with metro agents are not true, and the CCTV footage refutes this claim, Dorosti told the state news agency IRNA. FARS, the Iranian government’s official news agency, published an interview with the parents of the teen, who denied that their child was attacked.
“We have checked all the videos, and it has been proven for us that this incident was an accident We request people to pray for our child’s recovery, “ the girl’s father can be heard saying as per a media agency. “As they say, her blood pressure has dropped,” her mother said.
However, not everyone is convinced by the parent’s denial, Many have pointed out that Iranian authorities have released forced interviews in the past with family members of the victim killed or hurt by security forces. There are accusations that Garawand’s parents were coerced into speaking.
Footage of the Incident
Iran’s state-run media released the edited footage of the girl, apparently unconscious, being carried out of the carriage of the train by her friends. The grainy video does not show if the girls were wearing Hijab or not. No video from the inside of the train carriage was released. A purported video of the incident shows the teen being pushed in the metro car, possibly in an unconscious state is also doing the rounds on social media.
Reaction to the Video
Iranian American Journalist Masih Alinejad shared purported videos of Garawand lying in a hospital bed and wrote, “My heart is broken. Right on the first anniversary of the murder of Mahsa Amini in the hands of the morality police, these horrifying images emerged from Armita Garawand, the 16-year-old girl who is in a coma in Iran after a reported confrontation with the morality police in Tehran. I am crying. “The Iran Human Rights also took to X and called for the country-forced hijab law to be revoked.
Mahsa Amini’s Death
The incident has come just over a year after Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman whose death in police custody after being arrested for allegedly not complying with the mandatory Hijab rules, had triggered a historic protest in Iran. The authorities claimed that she died of a neurological disorder that caused a heart attack, but her family asserted that she was beaten by the police.