As protests continue to grip the nation of Iran, the Prosecutor General has announced the disbandment of the morality police responsible for the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini (Kurdish – Jina Amini). Despite taking a hardline stance on concessions, the Iranian government now seems to be wavering in the face of nearly three continuous months of riots and unrest.
In September, Iran’s morality police detained Mahsa Amini for not abiding mandatory hijab laws and took her to a “re-education facility. Three days later she died in a hospital from what the government claims was a “pre-existing condition”, despite her family’s claim that she was in “perfect health”. Witnesses to the arrest claim Amini was violently assaulted while being detained, leading to her sudden turn of health. Since then, protests have rocked the country as young people take to the streets to demand change. The government has been tough on crushing the protests, with several of those arrested being sentenced to death and police using violence to put down dissenters. Though the regime has undergone protests before, many before were primarily economic in nature. This new wave of protests, however, has seen young people disrupting the status quo in unprecedented ways and defying an Iranian government resistant to change. That is, until now.
On Sunday, Prosecutor General Mohammad-Jafar Montazeri made comments at a religious conference about disbanding the morality police, formally known as Gasht-e Ershad. Mr. Montazeri is quoted as having said, “The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up.” The statement seems to imply the decision is outside of his control, as the interior ministry, not his office, controls the police unit.
On Saturday, Mr. Montazeri made a statement to the Iranian parliament that the law requiring women to wear head coverings would be reviewed. Whether or not this means legitimate change is yet to be seen, however, the Prosecutor General noted that we “will see the results in a week or two.”
Locals report none of the infamous green and white vans of the Gasht-e Ershad have been seen for weeks, leading some to hope change is on the horizon. Though it must be noted that no official agency has verified these statements from Mr. Montazeri yet.
Norway-based watchdog, Iran Human Rights, said at least 448 people have been “killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests.” The Iranian government claims 200 people, including security forces. The United Nations Human Rights Chief stated last week that 14,000 people have been arrested so far by the Iranian government during the protests.