The United Nations has demanded an independent investigation into the death of an Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Iran’s morality police.
“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority,” Nada al-Nashif, the acting UN high commissioner for human rights, said on Tuesday.
The Iranian woman’s death has sparked widespread protests across the country, including in the capital, Tehran, where protesters chanted slogans against the government and clashed with police.
The demonstrators are demanding an investigation into the death of the 22-year-old woman and the dismantling of the morality police – known as Gasht-e Ershad or Islamic guidance patrol.
The UN Human Rights Office said Iran’s morality police have expanded their patrols in recent months, targeting women for not properly wearing hijab.
Amini was detained on September 13 and taken to a “guidance centre” where she collapsed and died three days later.
Iranian police have denied mistreating Amini and say she died of a heart attack. Authorities say they are investigating the incident.
Amjad Amini, her father, told an Iranian news website that witnesses saw her being shoved into a police car.
Amini’s father said when he reached the hospital, he was not allowed to see the body, but he managed to get a glimpse of bruising on her foot.
Authorities then pressured him to bury her at night, apparently to reduce the likelihood of protests. But Amini’s father said the family convinced them to let them bury her at 8am instead. Amini, who was Kurdish, was buried on Saturday in her home city of Saqez in western Iran.
“I asked for access to [videos] from cameras inside the car as well as courtyard of the police station, but they gave no answer,” he said. He also accused the police of not transferring her to the hospital promptly, saying she could have been resuscitated.
Several protesters have been arrested, according to local media.
Meanwhile, an Iranian governor has confirmed the first fatalities during protests.