Iranian Teenager Dies Weeks After Mysterious Collapse

Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old Iranian high school student, has died weeks after she collapsed and fell into a coma following what many believe was an encounter over not covering her hair in public.

Ms. Geravand’s death, nearly a month after she was believed to have been shoved by officers for not wearing a head scarf on a subway car in Tehran, was announced by Iran’s state news agency IRNA on Saturday. That report repeated the government line that Ms. Geravand’s coma had been caused by hitting her head after a fainting spell.

Ms. Geravand’s case has fueled outrage among many Iranians because of her young age and because of previous cases in which hundreds of women have been brutalized by the morality police for not wearing head scarves. In Ms. Geravand’s case, the Iranian authorities released only limited footage of the incident.

The circumstances of her case have prompted comparisons with Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman whose death in police custody in September 2022 led to the most significant wave of anti-government protests since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Ms. Amini’s death touched off widespread, monthslong demonstrations in which Iranian women publicly violated dress codes, mostly by eschewing head scarves, in huge protests that rattled the country.

With international and domestic pressure mounting, Iran said in December that it was abolishing its morality police. But this summer, the government created a special unit to enforce laws in Iran that require women to cover their hair with a hijab and wear loosefitting robes.

Station camera footage released by the government captured only part of the incident involving Ms. Geravand. The video shows her entering the subway car with friends without wearing a head scarf. It then shows her friends pulling her unconscious body back onto the platform. Footage from inside the subway car was not released.

The story was reported by Farzad Seifikaran, a journalist with Zamaneh Media, an independent Persian-language news site, based in Amsterdam. He said people familiar with the incident had told him that Ms. Geravand and two of her friends had argued with officers enforcing the hijab rule and that one of them had pushed Ms. Geravand, who hit her head on a metal object as she fell.

This week, state media reported that Ms. Geravand had been pronounced brain dead.

The Iranian authorities have tried to combat the quickly spreading reports that claimed they were responsible for Ms. Geravand’s injuries.

“The incident was immediately hijacked by anti-Iran media outlets, which claimed that Armita was brutally beaten by the police for wearing inappropriate clothing,” the English website of IRNA wrote on Saturday when announcing her death.

Ms. Geravand was taken to hospital on Oct. 1. Neither family nor friends were allowed to visit, and the police arrested a journalist who tried to see her in the hospital, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group that has tracked Ms. Geravand’s case.

Ms. Geravand’s parents have given an interview, which was widely seen as coerced, in which they repeated the official narrative that she had hit her head after fainting.

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