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Iranian activists accuse morality police of assault after teenage girl hospitalized

Activists on Wednesday accused Iran’s morality police of assaulting a teenage girl for not wearing a headscarf in a Tehran metro station, leading to her hospitalization with serious injuries. But Iranian authorities and the teenager’s parents said she was hospitalized due to low blood pressure.

A Norway-based group focused on Kurdish rights, Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, said that 16-year-old Armita Geravand was “assaulted” by morality police and has been in a coma since Sunday. Another opposition network, IranWire, said it had obtained information that Geravand was admitted to the hospital with “head trauma.”

“Following this confrontation, she managed to enter the metro, but collapsed later on,” Shekhi added.

The CEO of the Tehran metro however told state media that there was no physical or verbal interaction between Geravand and members of his staff. “According to our investigation, after reviewing the CCTV footages from the moment she entered the station and gets on the train, there was no verbal or physical altercation between the passengers with them or our staff. There was nothing recorded on the videos,” Tehran metro managing director Masoud Dorosti, told state media.

Some of the girls entering with Geravand appeared to not be wearing headscarves. Moments later, the video goes on to show a group of girls carrying Geravand out of the metro train, placing her on the metro platform as the metro leaves the station, the video shows.

Geravand’s mother and father told state media in an interview that their daughter seemed to hit her head after fainting from low blood pressure while she was on her way to school. The parents said there were no signs from the videos they saw that Geravand was assaulted.

“I think they said she had low blood pressure… drop in blood pressure or fallen on the floor… her head hit the edge of the metro and then (her friends) took her off (the train),” her mother Shahin Ahmadi said.

“We checked the cameras. She went there…I am not sure…one of the girls was in front and one was behind her. She got on the train and fell down… I don’t know …what happened…whether she was unconscious…she fainted…..they pulled her out and called the emergency care. She was then taken to the hospital,” said her father, Ahmad Garavand.

It is unclear if Geravand’s family were coerced into speaking to state media. In the past, UN human rights officials and rights groups have accused Iranian authorities of pressuring families of protesters killed to make statements supportive of the government narrative.

The teenager is currently being treated at a hospital in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported. IranWire is reporting that she is being treated at Fajr Air Force Hospital, in a separate statement it published on Wednesday.

Iran was besieged with protests following the case of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in custody after being arrested by Iran’s morality police last year for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Amini’s death sparked nationwide protests.

More than 300 people were also killed in months-long protests, including more than 40 children, the UN said in November last year. US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) in January placed the number of dead at more than 500, including 70 children. Thousands were arrested across the country, the UN said in a report in June, citing research released last year by their Human Rights Committee.

A journalist from Iranian pro-reform outlet Shargh Daily had gone to Fajr Air Force Hospital to report on Geravand’s condition when she was arrested on Tuesday, according to a post Shargh Daily on X, formerly known as Twitter. The reporter, Maryam Lotfi, has since been released, the outlet reported.

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