The development came amid ongoing nationwide protests sparked by the death in custody of Jina Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old from Iran’s Kurdistan region was arrested by Iran’s so-called “morality police” on 13 September for not wearing her hijab properly. “A growing number of people, including Iranian celebrities and sportswomen and men who have expressed support for the protests, have been summoned or arrested”, he added.
“What is the motive behind that, I’m not sure. But the families have the right to have the bodies of their loved ones returned to them. It’s cruel that they’re not”. He urged the authorities to address people’s demands for “equality, dignity and rights” – instead of using disproportionate force against demonstrators. According to OHCHR, security officers reportedly responded “forcefully” to demonstrations in several mainly Kurdish locations on Monday evening, including Javanrud and Saqqez, Ms. Amini’s hometown. “With respect to bodies not being returned to their families, of course that’s of grave concern to us”, said Mr. Laurence.
Families denied bodies of relatives
Mr. Laurence noted that the security forces’ approach had hardened to protesters, who have been killed in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, including more than 100 in Sistan and Baluchistan. The Iranian authorities have also reported that a number of security force personnel have been killed since the start of the protests. “At least six people connected to the protests have been sentenced to death on charges of ‘moharebeh’, or ‘waging war against God’, or ‘efsad-e fel-arz’, or ‘corruption on earth’, said spokesperson Jeremy Laurence. According to OHCHR, thousands have been detained throughout the country for joining peaceful protests. “The lack of accountability for gross human rights violations in Iran remains persistent and is contributing to the growing grievances”, said the OHCHR spokesperson. OHCHR also reiterated concerns that the authorities have refused to release the bodies of the dead to their families, or making their release “conditional” on not speaking to the media. Two 16-year-old boys were among six people killed over the weekend, according to the UN rights office, which noted that more than 300 people have lost their lives, including 40 children, since nationwide protests erupted on 16 September.