ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Mahsa (Zhina) Amini was beaten inside a police vehicle while in the custody of Iranian security forces, leading to her untimely demise, her father told Rudaw on Monday, stating that the videos broadcasted on Iranian TV depicting her as fainting due to illness were “lies” and “censored”.
The 22-year-old Mahsa was reportedly on a family visit to Tehran where she was detained on Tuesday allegedly over lax hijab. She later collapsed and was sent to an Iranian hospital where she died on Friday with authorities claiming that the cause of death was a heart attack, but human rights activists and witnesses say she was beaten in the police van.
“It is not clear how she was beaten. The women who were in the ambulance said that she was hit on the head,” Amjad Amini, Mahsa’s father, told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpy on Monday, adding that relevant authorities had refused to give him the autopsy for his daughter’s death.
Mahsa’s death sparked outrage across Iran’s western Kurdish region (Rojhelat) with scores of civilians and activists taking to the streets to protest the ambiguous circumstances surrounding the young woman’s demise.
Amjad stated that the family had repeatedly asked a pathologist to examine Mahsa’s body, but their requests were left unanswered.
CCTV footage of a young woman falling to the ground at a police station circulated on Iranian media, with authorities claiming the woman in the video was Mahsa as they cited heart failure as the cause of her death.
“She was not ill at all as Iranian TV claimed,” her father said, rejecting claims of her illness. “She was beaten inside the police vehicle and station but they do not want to show the [surveillance] video.”
Amjad said he was not allowed to see the footage from inside the ambulance.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi extended his condolences to Mahsa’s family through a phone call on Sunday, assuring them that he has ordered a thorough probe into the incident to clarify the circumstances surrounding the situation.
“I told President Ebrahim Raisi that the film shown on national TV was lies, it was censored,” Amjad added.
During the demonstrations in Sanandaj and Saqqez, women were seen taking off their scarves - a move considered illegal in Iran - as a sign of protest against the suspicious circumstances that led to Mahsa’s death.
General strikes condemning Mahsa’s death are expected to be held across Iran’s Kurdish cities later in the day, upon the call of the Kurdish political parties in the country.
Amjad stated that was going to lodge an official complaint after the funeral ends “so the world knows what happened to my daughter.”
Amnesty International said on Friday that Mahsa’s “suspicious death” needed to be “criminally investigated.”