A 16-year-old Iranian girl, identified as Armita Garawand, lies in a coma under heavy security in a Tehran hospital following an incident on the city’s subway, as reported by the Kurdish-focused rights group Hengaw. The organization alleges that the incident occurred during a confrontation with female police officers from the Islamic republic’s morality police.
However, Iranian authorities have denied the allegations, asserting that the girl “fainted” due to low blood pressure and emphasizing that security forces were not involved in the incident.
The incident has sparked concern and discussions, especially on social media, where purported videos of the incident have circulated. Some of these videos suggest that the teenager, who appeared to be with friends and unveiled, was pushed onto the subway by female police officers and was later seen being carried away motionless.
Hengaw claims that Armita Garawand sustained severe injuries during the altercation with agents of the so-called morality police at Tehran’s Shohada metro station on Sunday. She is currently receiving treatment at Tehran’s Fajr hospital, where strict security measures are reportedly in place, preventing any visits, even from her family. A photograph published by the organization shows the girl in her hospital bed with her head and neck heavily bandaged, connected to a feeding tube, and the organization states that “her state of consciousness is unchanged.”
Her parents reportedly gave an interview to Iranian state media at the hospital, but Hengaw alleges that this was conducted in the presence of high-ranking security officers and under significant pressure.
While Armita Garawand resides in Tehran, she originally hails from the Kurdish-populated city of Kermanshah in western Iran, according to Hengaw.
In response to the incident, journalist Maryam Lotfi from the Shargh daily newspaper attempted to visit the hospital but was promptly detained, although she was later released.
This incident has come at a time when Iranian authorities are particularly vigilant regarding social tensions, following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini over a year ago. Amini had been arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress rules for women, and her death led to months of protests that unsettled Iran’s clerical leadership. Activists claim that thousands were arrested, and hundreds lost their lives in the subsequent crackdown.
Furthermore, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has noted an increased crackdown on women and girls who defy the Islamic republic’s strict dress code, including mandatory hijab. They report heightened discrimination, arbitrary arrests, and increased violence as the forced-veiling police patrols were reactivated by the Iranian authorities.