Iran faced international criticism on Tuesday over the death of a woman held by its morality police, which ignited three days of protests and arrests across the country, including clashes with security forces in the capital.
The UN human rights office called for an investigation. The United States, which is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, called on Tehran to end its “systemic persecution” of women. Italy also condemned her death.
Iran dismissed the criticism as politically motivated.
The UN body said Iran's morality police have expanded their patrols in recent months, targeting women for not properly wearing the Islamic headscarf, known as hijab. It said verified videos show women being slapped in the face, struck with batons and thrown into police vans for wearing the hijab too loosely.
A similar patrol detained 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last Tuesday, taking her to a police station where she collapsed. She died three days later. Iranian police have denied mistreating Amini and say she died of a heart attack. Authorities say they are investigating the incident.
“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority,” said Nada Al-Nashif, the acting UN high commissioner for human rights.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meanwhile said Amini “should be alive today.”
“Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protest,” he tweeted.
Italy's Foreign Ministry called for “the perpetrators of this cowardly act” to be held to account, saying “violence against innocent people, especially women and girls, can never be tolerated.”