The Death of Mahsa Amini and its Repercussions

The Death of Mahsa Amini and its Repercussions

Shivani Row, Editor

You may have heard in the news about someone named Mahsa Amini sparking protests across the world over her death. So who exactly was she, and what happened to her to cause these riots and protests?


Mahsa Amini was a 22 year old Iranian woman from Saqez, a Kurdish city. She was known for being “shy” and reserved, steering clear of politics and keeping to herself. But that still couldn’t protect her from the sexist and oppressive regimes the Islamic Republic enforces. She was in Tehran visiting family when, after stepping out from the train station, she was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” for not wearing her hijab correctly while in her brother’s car, and allegedly breaking the country’s strict Islamic hijab laws. Amini and her brother pleaded with the police to let her go, saying that they weren’t familiar with the rules in Tehran, but they still detained her. Her brother waited for her in front of the Vozara morality police detention center, but after 2 hours an ambulance arrived to transfer her to the Kasra hospital. 3 days later, after being in a coma, she experienced cardiac arrest and died in the hospital on September 16. 


Tehran police told Amini’s family she died of a sudden heart attack, but her family argued that she had no known heart conditions. Amini’s father, Amjad Amini, said doctors refused to let him see his daughter after her death. “They’re lying. They’re telling lies. Everything is a lie…no matter how much I begged, they wouldn’t let me see my daughter.” Meanwhile, eyewitnesses claim they saw police beating her up inside a van. A top medical official in the southern province of Hormozgan rejected Iranian officials’ claims, confirming that the most likely cause of her death was blows to her head at the hands of the police who beat her. 


In the week after her death, protests erupted in her hometown in northwest Iran, spreading to Tehran and other cities and sparking thousands of outraged Iranians protesting over Amini’s death. Some Iranian women burned their hijabs on the streets to protest the death. Nasibe Samsaei, an Iranian woman living in Turkey, cut her hair during protests outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul, encouraging women to post themselves online following her lead. Candles were lit and pictures were displayed of Mahsa Amini during protests in Istanbul to honor her. In Tehran, students voiced their anger over oppressive policies and restrictions of freedoms, and at the all female Al-Zahra university, many women removed their hijabs and protested the regime. Many protestors have been chanting “death to the dictator,” with anger to end the Islamic Republic’s laws.


A problem has arisen with this, however. In order to contain the unrest, police have used tear gas, water cannons, and firearms on crowds. According to some humans’ rights organizations in the country, at least 16 people have died in western Iran from clashes with police. Authorities have also blocked the internet, hoping to prevent the dissent from spreading. Iran and Tehran blame “foreign enemies,” including the US and some European countries, of trying to destabilize the Islamic Republic. They’ve even sent death threats to Mahsa Amini’s family, trying to scare them into silence. 


Regardless of the government’s futile efforts to silence them, Amini’s wrongful death has sparked protests across not only the country, but the entire world. Public outrage over sexism and oppression has sparked discussions and protests and riots over freedoms, rights, and gender based violence against women. No government should dictate how a woman dresses, and these controlling policies leading to the deaths of women who don’t meticulously follow the blatantly sexist and oppressive rules is horrendous, so it’s not surprising that it’s garnered condemnation towards the Republic from all over the world. Recently, protests even include teachers, farmers, and other professionals who have taken to the streets to call for a change in government policy. 


Women’s voices cannot be silenced, and people all over the world will continue to protest for as long as it takes to stop the oppression.