Iran’s judiciary has denied a report by a rights group that said security forces had arrested the mother of a teenage girl who was in a coma after an alleged confrontation with police.
Iranian authorities have denied reports by rights activists that the 16-year-old girl, Armita Geravand, was injured on Sunday in a confrontation with officers enforcing the country’s conservative dress code, which requires women to wear a head covering.
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The Iranian-Kurdish rights group Hengaw said that security forces arrested Geravand’s mother Shahin Ahmadi on Thursday near the hospital where her daughter was taken after the incident.
Iran’s judiciary denied the report by Hengaw on the X social media platform.
Iranian state news agency IRNA reported that the judiciary denied any arrest having taken place. It said that unidentified enemies were spreading rumours about Geravand’s “loss of consciousness” for their own gain.
The incident has come more than a year after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman whose death in a coma in September 2022 in the custody of morality police sparked weeks of nationwide anti-government protests, which led to a violent crackdown by authorities.
A new hijab law has taken effect in Iran which imposes punishments on women who do not wear it in public.
UN-appointed rights officials last month expressed their concern about the law.
Two rights activists said Geravand fell into a coma following what they said was a confrontation with agents in the Tehran metro for violating the hijab law, the Reuters news agency reported.
The Tehran Metro Operating Company told state news agency IRNA that CCTV footage showed no sign of verbal or physical conflict between passengers or company employees.
The hospitalisation of Geravand has ignited anger on social media among Iranians who demand full video footage of what happened, including from inside a metro car.
“We have YET another beautiful girl in a coma all for the crime of bad hijab … her name is Armita Geravand. She is only 16,” human rights lawyer Gissou Nia, who serves as board chair of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, wrote on X.
CCTV footage shared by IRNA showed Geravand without a hijab accompanied by two female friends walking towards a train from a platform. Upon entering the carriage, one of the girls is seen immediately backing off and reaching for the ground, before another girl is dragged unconscious from the train by passengers.
Geravand’s mother and father appeared in a video posted on IRNA on Wednesday saying that their daughter had suffered a drop in blood pressure, lost her balance, and hit her head on the metro train.
Rights groups said the statement was made under duress.
Iran’s government has imposed restrictions on women’s dress since a popular revolution deposed the secular and Western-backed Shah in 1979. Women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes.
Violators have faced public rebuke, fines or arrest yet in the months following last year’s unrest women were still widely seen unveiled in malls, restaurants, shops and streets around the country.
The incident has drawn international attention.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had said on X, “Once again a young woman in #Iran is fighting for her life. Just because she showed her hair in the subway.”
US Deputy Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley also wrote that he was “shocked and concerned about reports that Iran’s so-called morality police have assaulted 16-year-old Armita Geravand”.
Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nasser Kanaani criticised the United States, United Kingdom and Germany for remarks they made about women’s rights in Iran and Geravand’s case.
“Instead of interventionist and biased remarks and expressing insincere concern over Iranian women and girls, you’d better be concerned about U.S., German and UK healthcare personnel, patients and tackle their situation,” he wrote on X.