Hundreds Protest Death of Woman in Custody of Iran’s Morality Police at Istanbul Consulate
Internet restricted after several days of protests in dozens of cities in Iran over death of Mahsa Amini
Hundreds gathered in front of Iran’s consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, who died after police arrested her for what they deemed to be the improper wearing of the hijab.
Protesters chanted slogans and held up signs bearing Amini’s picture.
One protester’s sign read “I have a daughter the same age as Mahsa,” while another stated: “Iranian women’s struggle for freedom is our struggle, long live our international solidarity.”
“I have to support them,” said Peri, a female protester from Iran.
She told The Media Line that it was important for the protest to be near the consulate so that the Iranian government could hear their voices.
“[Women] can’t choose anything. What I want to wear, which dress, which scarf, I don’t have any choice, nothing,” Peri said.
Another woman from Iran who was at the protest said she wanted to be there because Amini reminded her of her own family.
“She’s like my daughter… I’m very angry, I’m very sad,” the protester said. “I’m so angry at the government.”
There was a heavy police presence, with officers wearing riot gear and lining the sidewalk next to the consulate behind the group of protesters.
She’s like my daughter. I’m very angry, I’m very sad. I’m so angry at the government.
One woman in the crowd cut her hair and Turkish social media accounts posted videos of other women cutting their hair as well, mirroring protesters in Iran who have done the same, while others burned their hijabs.
The Turkish group organizing the demonstration, Women Strong Together, tweeted: “We defend our freedom against those who ignore our will, identity and existence with religious policies!” In another tweet, the group stated: “Our struggle goes beyond borders!”
On Tuesday evening, police interrupted a demonstration that was planned in Taksim Square, in the center of Istanbul, and reportedly detained protesters.
A small group still gathered at the square holding up posters with Amini’s picture.
One demonstrator told The Media Line that they were there because of what happened to Amini, but declined to speak further because they said they feared being deported from Turkey.
Protests by thousands of people have been held in dozens of cities across Iran since Friday after the death of Amini, 22, who fell into a coma after being detained by the morality police.
One human rights organization stated that 10 people have been killed during the demonstrations.
Access to the internet reportedly has been restricted by authorities, including to Instagram, as well as to the instant messaging application Whatsapp, both owned by the Meta company, headquartered in the United States.
At the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi complained that the West has double standards when it comes to human rights violations in other countries.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects some of the double standards of some governments vis-a-vis human rights,” he said.
At the meeting in New York, US President Joe Biden expressed support for the protesters.
“We stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who are right now demonstrating to secure their basic rights,” Biden said.
Germany also expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.
“The death of Mahsa Amini illustrates this in a terribly tragic way: If women are not safe, no one is safe in a society,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, according to the German Press Agency.
A 2021 report by the UN stated that girls and women are “second-class” citizens in Iran, citing the marriages of girls as young as 10 years old, and called for better protection for them against violence.
Amnesty International reported last year that the torture of prisoners in Iran was widespread and that there were at least 24 deaths of prisoners under suspicious circumstances.
“Discriminatory compulsory veiling laws led to daily harassment, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, and denial of access to education, employment and public spaces,” the human rights organization stated, adding that at least six people were imprisoned for advocating against compulsory veiling.
Peri, the protester, believes that the current demonstrations are different from previous ones because they are being led by women, and that change will happen.
“I think that this time, yes … Women [are] so strong,” she said, lifting up her fist. “This is a tragedy, this is so much tragedy.”