Iranian state media is reporting that a 16-year-old girl dragged off a train car after morality police allegedly attacked her for violating the Islamic nation’s hijab law is now “brain dead.”
Iranian officials, however, have disputed what happened after Armita Geravand boarded a train at the Meydan-E Shohada, or Martyrs’ Square, Metro station in southern Tehran without the headscarf Oct. 1. Soundless security footage aired by state TV showed women dragging the teen’s limp body off the train car a few seconds later.
However, in the video, a conductor blocked part of the view of the train car doorway, and Geravand is soon seen carried off. A friend told state TV that Geravand hit her head on the platform, and her mother and father said in an aired interview – which many activists say was likely filmed under duress – that a blood pressure issue caused their daughter to collapse.
Activists abroad have alleged Geravand may have been pushed or attacked by morality police because she was not wearing the hijab, according to The Associated Press.
“Follow-ups on the latest health condition of Geravand indicate that her condition of being brain dead seems certain despite the efforts of the medical staff,” state media reported Sunday, according to Reuters.
Hengaw, a Kurdish-Iranian human rights group, published photos earlier this month on social media depicting Geravand unconscious with a respiratory tube and bandage over her head, visibly on life support at a hospital, but Reuters said it could not independently verify those images.
Hengaw had also claimed that security forces arrested Geravand’s mother, Shahin Ahmadi, after her daughter’s injury gained publicity, according to the AP. Authorities in Tehran did not immediately acknowledge the claim, though semiofficial news agencies denied it. Activists abroad have demanded an independent investigation by the United Nations’ fact-finding mission on Iran, citing the theocracy’s use of pressure on victims’ families and state TV’s history of airing hundreds of coerced confessions.
Many feared Geravand would meet the same fate as 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in a hospital on Sept. 16, 2022, after she was detained by Iranian morality police on allegations of improperly wearing the hijab. Suspicions that she was beaten during her arrest led to mass demonstrations that represented the largest challenge to Iran’s theocratic government since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women as a sign of piety before God and modesty in front of men outside their families, became mandatory in Iran in the years following the revolution. Since Amini’s death, more woman in Iran have been ignoring the hijab law in protest.
Emergency medical technicians took Geravand to Fajr Hospital, which is at an Iranian air force base and one of the closest medical facilities to the Metro station. In the time since Geravand’s injury, security forces have arrested a journalist for Shargh newspaper who went to the hospital, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Shargh, a reformist newspaper, helped lead reporting surrounding Amini’s death as well.
Last month, the Iranian government implemented an updated hijab law, adding lengthy prison sentences for violators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.