Armita Garavand, a 17-year-old girl who had fallen into a coma following an incident with special officers enforcing compulsory hijab rules in the Tehran subway, has tragically passed away. She was admitted to Tehran Air Force’s Fajr Hospital, where she recently experienced brain death, and medical professionals had given up hope of her recovery.
As reported by the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, Armita Garavand, a 17-year-old from Kermanshah (Kermashan), has now become the most recent victim of compulsory hijab regulations, losing her life after spending 28 days in Tehran’s Fajr Hospital. This case has raised serious questions about Iran’s strict dress rules for women, particularly the mandatory hijab laws, as conflicting narratives and concerns of a cover-up emerge.
Manhandling Armita Geravand
It was reported that Armita Geravand was manhandled following an altercation with female officers of Morality Police on the Tehran metro, who had apprehended her for allegedly violating the strict dress code for women. The family of Armita Geravand, represented by the Kurdish-focused Hengaw rights group, have claimed that Armita’s medical team informed them that her brain is no longer functioning, and there is no hope of recovery.
Iran has vehemently denied accusations of any wrongdoing and insists there was no altercation. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, even published an edited CCTV clip showing a girl being carried out of a train. However, this footage has come under scrutiny as human rights organizations and Amnesty International have raised concerns about its authenticity.
Restrictions on Information and Suspected Coercion
The situation surrounding Armita Geravand has been further complicated by restrictions on information and potential coercion of witnesses. Iranian journalist Maryam Lotfi was briefly detained after attempting to report on Geravand’s condition, and she remains heavily guarded by Iranian security forces.
The controversy deepened with the release of an edited CCTV clip by Iran’s official news agency, IRNA. The clip shows a girl being carried out of a train. However, crucial footage depicting her entering the metro station, boarding the train, and the events leading to her fainting inside the wagon have not been made public. It is worth noting that all metro stations and trains in Tehran are equipped with CCTV cameras. The failure to release this footage has led to increased doubts about the official narrative.
Amnesty International conducted an analysis of footage provided by Iranian media, which purportedly shows there was no altercation. Amnesty’s findings raised concerns, as the footage appeared to be edited, with an increased frame rate, and over three minutes of content was missing.
Tehran metro managing director Masood Dorosti has denied any “verbal or physical conflict” between Armita Geravand and passengers or metro staff.
In a surprising twist, IRNA later published interviews with two girls claiming to be friends of Armita Geravand, who corroborated the official account. However, Hengaw has raised doubts about the verifiability of interviews with family and eyewitnesses of the incident that were published by state-controlled Iranian media.
Amnesty International has expressed “serious concerns” that Armita Geravand’s family and friends may have been coerced into appearing in propaganda videos and echoing the state narrative under duress and threats of reprisals.
A Grim Echo of the Past
This case reminds many of the tragic fate of Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in the custody of Iranian morality police in September 2022. Her death was labeled as a “state murder” by Iran Human Rights, prompting international calls for a UN fact-finding mission into Iran’s human rights violations.
Iran Human Rights has now called for international pressure on Iran to allow an independent investigation team into the country to determine the circumstances that led to Armita’s coma. Failure to do so, they argue, would be seen as another attempt to cover up a crime and allow the perpetrators to escape accountability.