Women burn headscarves at Iran anti-hijab protests

Women have been at the forefront of escalating protests in Iran sparked by the death of a woman in custody who was detained for breaking hijab laws.

Crowds cheered when women burned their hijabs on a bonfire in Sari on Tuesday, the fifth successive day of unrest.

Activists said a woman was among three protesters shot dead by security forces in Urmia, Piranshahr and Kermanshah.

Authorities accused protesters of killing two civilians in Kermanshah as well as a police assistant in Shiraz.

At least seven people are now reported to have been killed since protests against the hijab laws and morality police erupted after Mahsa Amini’s death.

The 22-year-old Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez died in hospital on Friday, after spending three days in a coma.

She was with her brother in Tehran when she was arrested by morality police, who accused her of breaking the law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing. She fell into the coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre.

There were reports that police beat Ms Amini’s head with a baton and banged her head against one of their vehicles, Acting United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif said.

The police have denied that she was mistreated and said she suffered “sudden heart failure”. But her family has said she was fit and healthy.

“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth,” Ms Nashif said.

She noted that the UN had received “numerous, and verified, videos of violent treatment of women” as morality police expanded their street patrols in recent months to crack down on those perceived to be wearing “loose hijab”.

“The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules,” she added, calling for their repeal. -BBC

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