Tehran Funeral Set for Iranian Teen Who Died After Alleged Police Encounter

Relatives of an Iranian teenager who died Saturday as a result of an alleged confrontation with police for violating the country’s hijab law say they are preparing funeral arrangements under tight security in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, according to an Iranian human rights watchdog.

Citing information provided by family members of the late 17-year-old Armita Geravand, the Norway-based Hengaw rights group said early Saturday that authorities have forbidden the family from transporting her remains for burial in her native Kermanshah, a city in Iran’s Kurdish-populated west.

Like many of Iran’s larger cities, Kermanshah saw a surge of anti-government protests over the past year in response to the September 2022 death in morality police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Geravand’s death comes barely a year after Amini’s sparked months of anti-government protests over the state’s mandatory Islamic dress code and spiraled into the biggest show of opposition to Iranian authorities in years.

Reports of tight state control over Geravand’s funeral, which is reportedly set to take place Sunday, indicate officials in Tehran may be concerned the event could spur a new wave of unrest.

Geravand died following an alleged encounter with officers over violating the country’s hijab law as she was entering a subway car at Meydan-E Shohada, or Martyrs’ Square, Metro station in southern Tehran on October 1, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, she went into a coma for some time after suffering from brain damage,” IRNA reported.

Iranian officials deny that Geravand, who was pronounced brain dead last week after falling into a coma October 1, was injured as a result of police activities.

Activists abroad have alleged Geravand may have been pushed or attacked for not wearing the hijab. They also demanded an independent investigation by the United Nations fact-finding mission on Iran, citing the theocracy’s use of pressure on victims’ families and state TV’s history of airing hundreds of coerced confessions.

Saturday’s IRNA report says doctors identified cause of death as “a sudden drop in blood pressure.”

“She suffered a fall, a brain injury, followed by continuous convulsions, decreased cerebral oxygenation and cerebral edema,” the official post-mortem is quoted as saying.

Geravand’s parents then appeared in state media footage saying a blood pressure issue, a fall, or perhaps both contributed to their daughter’s injury.

According to Reuters, right groups were the first to make Geravand’s hospitalization public, posting unverified images on social media that appeared to show her unconscious and on life support, with a respiratory tube and her head bandaged.

Women are required by law to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes in Iran, where the secular and Western-backed shah was deposed in a revolution in 1979.

Although violators face public rebuke, fines or arrest for defying the strict Islamic dress code, more women have been appearing unveiled in public places such as restaurants and shops since Amini’s death.

This story originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Some information is from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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