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Jailed, For Her Reportage

Niloufar Hamedi, the journalist who triggered the Anti-Hijab Movement in Iran by clicking photos of Mahsa Amini in the third week of September 2022, is currently in a prison. It may be noted that Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd woman, died in a hospital in Tehran on September 16, 2022, under suspicious circumstances. The Guidance Patrol, the religious Morality Police of Iran, arrested Amini for not wearing the hijab in accordance with Government standards (a bit loose), exposing some hair. The Police, after transferring her to hospital, claimed that she had a heart attack at a police station, collapsed, and fell into a coma. However, eyewitnesses, including women who were detained with Amini, stated that she was severely beaten up, and succumbed to the injury sustained thus, as a result of Police brutality. Although the Iranian Administration has not filed any charges against Hamedi, she is spending her days in solitary confinement.

Hamedi, who has always fought for Women’s Rights, clicked an image of Amini’s parents on September 16, and posted it on Twitter. At that time, Amini was in a comatose condition, and her helpless parents were waiting outside the hospital cabin. Hamedi felt that the image should be shared with the global community. This image triggered the Anti-Hijab Movement in the West Asian nation. On September 22, the intelligence agency conducted a raid at the residence of the journalist, and seized her notepads, printed articles and other materials. Later, the Iranian Police arrested Hamedi, who works for Shargh daily, and also suspended her Twitter account. Mohammed Ali Kamfirouzi, the Advocate representing Hamedi, recently informed about the arrest on social media.

Protests rocked Iran soon after Hamedi posted the image on Twitter. Thousands of young Iranian women took to the streets, demanding Individual Freedom and Human Rights, in different parts of their country. The concerned authorities started using force to suppress the protesters. So far, more than 185 protesters, including 19 minors, have lost their lives. One of them is Nika Shahkarami (16). The teenage girl reportedly took off her hijab and burnt it in public, demanding Freedom. Thereafter, she went missing. Ten days later, her body was found in a morgue. Shahkarami’s mother has claimed that her daughter was killed by the Iranian Security Forces, stressing: “It’s clear that my daughter was at the protests and killed there.” The Government of Iran, on the other hand, has stated that Shahkarami was found dead on September 21 (2022) after closed circuit TV footage appeared to show her entering a building in Tehran. The concerned authorities have publicly concluded that she died after falling from the roof of that building.

A new tide of movement rocked Iran after the death of Shahkarami. The Police recently used bullets against protesters in the western Iranian city of Sanandaj. Multiple explosions have also taken place there. Although the Iranian authorities have claimed that the Police firing claimed just a single life, protesters are of the opinion that a number of people received serious injuries. The situation is somewhat similar in other major cities.

According to experts, although Amini’s controversial death has triggered the Anti-Hijab Movement in Iran, it is basically an outcome of accumulated anger of the people against the moral-policing and other atrocities committed by the Government of Iran. Poverty, political corruption and lack of employment opportunities are major problems the Iranian people are facing. Several employees of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, too, have joined the movement!

Meanwhile, Britain has imposed sanctions on Iran’s Moral Police, Security Forces and senior Government officials. As expected, Tehran has condemned the move, stating that Britain’s allegations are baseless. The Iranian officials have also discussed the issue with the ambassador of Britain in Iran.

Experts are of the opinion that it would be difficult for the Government of Iran to tackle the ongoing protests by using force.

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