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Protests against Acid Attacks on Women in Isfahan

(October 22, 2014) -- Following several acid attacks targeting women in Isfahan, which has caused panic in Iran’s third largest city, today a large demonstration was held in front of the Ministry of Justice building in Isfahan. Meanwhile, a number of activists including Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mohammad Nourizad held a similar event in front of the Iranian parliament building in Tehran.

Several videos posted online show segments of the demonstration in Isfahan. Isfahan’s Prosecutor is heard as he speaks to the demonstrators. Meanwhile, the demonstrators are heard uttering slogans like, “Police! Where are my sister’s eyes?” “We don’t want the promotion of virtue with acid!” “Forced veiling is impossible, Iran won’t become Iraq,” “Zayandeh Rud [River] has dried up, acid attacks have gotten trendy!” “Our shame, our parliament,” “Lower than ISIS, throwing acid at us,” “Prosecutor! Feel some shame and resign!”

“A scene from the protest in Isfahan earlier today.”

President Rouhani implicitly mentioned the acid attacks in his remarks today. Rouhani said, “It is unacceptable that a lack of security could gain a foothold in our society under the guise of the promotion of virtue and the discouraging of vice.”  In recent days users on social media have linked acid attacks with a terror campaign aimed at confronting women who do not ascribe to the conservative veiling practices preferred by the authorities.

Despite assurances by the Iranian authorities that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, statements by public officials regarding the acid attacks in Isfahan have been contradictory. Initially the authorities stated that two women had been attacked. Later, Commander Ashtari, the deputy chief of the Iranian police indicated that there have been four acid attacks. On October 22, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian police, confirmed “seven or eight” instances of acid attacks in Isfahan in the past few months. There have also been conflicting reports regarding whether any arrests have been made. On October 20 an official with the Ministry of Interior stated that four suspects were in custody. On the same day, however, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Eje’i, deputy head of the Iranian judiciary, indicated that no arrests have yet been made. Families of the victims have indicated that the authorities have discouraged them from speaking to media.

The motivation behind the acid attacks has also been debated in recent days. While the demonstrators in Isfahan blamed religious extremism, several Iranian officials have offered alternative explanations. Abbas-Ali Mansouri Arani, a member of the Iranian parliament, accused foreign intelligence agencies of assisting individuals engaging in acid attacks. Elham Aminzadeh, Vice-President for legal affairs, stated that the acid attacks were not related to religious vigilantism, and that the perpetrators have had personal motives against the victims.

According to reports from inside Iran, one of the victims of the acid attacks died on Sunday, October 19.

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Tagged as:

Right to Protest, Torture