Armita Geravand, who died after spending four weeks in coma.

Iran Authorities Silence Media On Teenage Hijab Victim's Death

Saturday, 10/28/2023
Maryam Sinaiee

British Iranian journalist and political analyst

To prevent repeat of anti-regime protests like the Mahsa Amini protests, Iranian authorities have imposed a full ban on reporting about Armita Geravand’s death.

Throughout her month-long hospitalization, the media has been prohibited from reporting anything other than the official account of her death, which was first published Saturday morning by the official government news agency IRNA. Most websites Saturday only republished the IRNA report or did not cover it at all, despite its significance.

“They did not allow us report about the child of [our] motherland,” Shargh daily journalist Maryam Shokrani said in a tweet with the hashtag Armita Geravand. This, apparently, was a reference to the ban on reporting on Armita’s case when reporting on children of Gaza being killed by Israel is even encouraged and could be rewarded.

Another journalist, Saeed Arkanzadeh, tweeted that authorities have assumed the role of narrative makers, believing that they control the public opinion by creating their version of a story and amplifying it through their affiliated media to succeed in establishing it as the correct account of an incident. “is it really that simple?”, he asked.

However, authorities seem to have failed to convince most Iranians, who believe hijab enforcers were responsible for her death. Authorities claim her head injury was caused by low blood pressure and fainting.

People took to the rooftops and windows to chant Armita’s name and against the regime. “Down with the girl-killing regime!”, “Down with the Dictator”, and “Death to Khamenei” in the defiant Ekbatan neighborhood in western Tehran, the close-by Chitgar, and some other areas of the city Saturday evening.

Hours after Armita's death was announced, Tehran Prosecutor Ali Salehi initiated legal proceedings against the prominent reformist political commentator Sadegh Zibakalam and two journalists, Sara Massoumi and Milad Alavi, for their social media posts, along with the administrators of a Telegram news channel called Roozarooz.

According to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) linked Tasnim and Fars news agencies, the accused could be charged with lying about Armita’s death, presumably regarding its connection with hijab enforcement hijab enforcement, and for casting doubt on the official account.

Zibakalam expressed his hope that Armita's death would prompt the authorities to reconsider their stance on compulsory hijab. He stated, "How many Mahsas and young Armitas must be buried before the authorities accept that they cannot force people to wear the hijab or remove it?"

Sara Massoumi, a former reporter for the reformist Etemad newspaper, tweeted, "They say that you 'passed.' We have known the trail of blood for years. The city smells of the blood of the mistreated. Did they eventually show your mother all the footage?" She was referring to the authorities' pressure on Armita's mother to confirm the official account on television cameras.

The Geravand family, originally from the western Kurdish province of Kermanshah, is under pressure to keep her funeral as low-key as possible. The family's funeral announcement released on Saturday does not include a photo of Armita; instead, it features an image of a white candle and roses with the words "My daughter."

“The women and girls of this land are censored even after their death,” Omid Tousheh, another journalist tweeted referring to the funeral announcement.

Many other Iranians, including some celebrities, have posted condolences to Armita’s family and all Iranians, as well as their own views on the young girl’s death, on social media.

Actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who has been banned from acting for defying the hijab wrote on Instagram that her decision to stop acting in Iranian films is not because she is not allowed to but because she believes that the headscarf actresses are forced to wear in films "is stained with blood." She stated, "I will not wear the scarf that killed my sisters."

Prominent expatriate opposition figures including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Canada-based Hamed Esmaeilion, former Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, and the US-based activist Masih Alinejad have also condemned the state killing of Armita Geravand.

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