Attending a funeral can be a dangerous thing to do in Iran – particularly if the deceased is a young girl who died after an alleged encounter with the morality police after not properly wearing the compulsory hijab.
Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, along with several other rights defenders, were reportedly beaten severely and arrested as they attended the funeral October 29 for 16-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Armita Geravand. Geravand died in a hospital in Tehran following weeks in a coma after allegedly being assaulted on the metro for having her hair uncovered. Her tragic death resembles the fatal case of another young Kurdish-Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini. Her death in September 2022 in the custody of the morality police, after she was arrested for wearing her hijab too loosely, sparked lengthy, vehement, and nation-wide protests that were brutally repressed by the government. The protests and the authorities’ violent response began at Amini’s funeral, attended by thousands of people, in her hometown of Saqqez.
Nasrin Sotoudeh is no stranger to arrest and imprisonment in Iran. A fearless defender of women, religious minorities, and peaceful activists, she has been arrested on a variety of spurious security-related charges and has spent years in prison. Her husband Reza Khandan said Sotoudeh was severely beaten and her glasses broken during her arrest at Armita Geravand’s funeral. Narin Sotoudeh has been transferred to the infamous Qarchak prison outside Tehran.
In a written statement, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller condemned the “violent assault and unjust detention of several human rights defenders during the October 29 funeral of Armita Geravand, who died after reportedly being assaulted on the Tehran metro for not wearing a hijab. ... The United States calls for the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Ms. Sotoudeh and others detained unjustly by the regime.”
Spokesperson Miller added, “We once again condemn the Iranian regime’s horrific treatment of its own people, including its campaign of violence against the women and girls of Iran. The United States will continue to stand with the brave people of Iran and work with the international community to hold the regime accountable for its human rights abuses at home and abroad.”