Iranian Teenager Assaulted By Morality Police On Subway Likely 'Brain Dead'

Armita Garavand, a high-school student in a coma after reportedly being assaulted by morality police for not wearing the mandatory hijab, is likely “brain dead,” according to an Iranian media report.

The Borna state news agency, which is affiliated with the Sports and Youth Ministry, reported on October 22 that the 16-year-old’s “health condition is not promising and despite the efforts of the treating medical staff, the brain death of Armita Garavand seems certain.”

While much of Iranian media has reported little on the situation around Garavand, Borna has previously reported that the young woman’s condition had “deteriorated.”

Rights groups and journalists say Garavand and two of her friends were confronted on October 1 by police officers for not wearing the mandatory hijab as they tried to enter a Tehran subway station. The officers physically assaulted Garavand, who later fell unconscious after entering a subway carriage.

A source at the Fajr Air Force Hospital, who spoke to RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on condition of anonymity due to security reasons, has said Garavand had suffered internal bleeding in the brain and was in critical condition.

The Hengaw human rights group, which first reported the initial incident, said on October 5 that Garavand's mother, Shahin Ahmadi, has been detained by Iranian government security forces.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have reportedly been pressuring students at Garavand’s school to avoid talking about what happened, especially with media.

A post on the X social media site by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers' Trade Associations on October 5 said the head of security of the General Directorate of Education in Tehran had visited Garavand's school and threatened teachers and pupils "against giving out any information about the condition of this student [Garavand]."

The security head "emphasized that publishing any news or even photos of Armita Garavand through Internet pages by teachers of this student will results in a heavy fine and the teacher will be fired immediately."

It added that a "reliable source" said the two friends who accompanied Garavand on the day of the incident are "under intense pressure not only to refrain from divulging any information about Armita's condition, but also being put in front of the cameras of official news agencies and having to deny any incident" took place.

Garavand’s case, and suggestions of a cover-up by the authorities, has drawn parallels with the events leading up to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini last year. Amini’s death soon after she was arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s hijab law triggered months of antiestablishment protests.

Last week, Amini and the "Women, Life, Freedom" movement in Iran that was triggered by her death were awarded this year's Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament’s top rights award, the second honor bestowed upon Iranian women this month for their sometimes deadly struggle for human rights after activist Narges Mohammadi won the Nobel Peace Prize.

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