Iran foreign minister accuses West of double standards as protests flare up

Family of teenager killed at Mahsa Amini demonstrations accuse authorities of murder

A protest in front of the Iranian embassy  in Madrid, Spain, against the Iranian government and the death of Mahsa Amini. October 6, 2022. Reuters
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Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian accused the west of double standards on human rights, even as the family of an Iranian teenager who died while participating in the anti-government protests accused authorities of murdering her.

"The concern for women's rights in Iran is extremely important to us," Mr Abdollahian said in a phone call with his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto. "Now women play a very influential role in various academic, scientific, medical, educational, administrative and technological fields."

The statement came even as the country is rocked by protests that have spread to Europe and the US after the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of authorities.

Amini was arrested for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.

Iranians have since taken to the streets to protest against the government's mistreatment of women. They have been removing and burning their headscarves while chanting "death to the dictator".

Meanwhile, the crackdown on protests by security forces has claimed dozens of lives, according to human rights groups.

Iranian officials blame the West for fuelling the protests.

Mr Abdollahian said Tehran supports peaceful demonstrations, a citizen's legal right.

"But in the meantime, some rioters, with foreign directives and incitement from foreign TV channels, destroyed public property, attacked citizens and internal security forces with firearms and cold weapons, which is unacceptable anywhere in the world," he said.

Meanwhile, the mother of Nika Shahkarami, a 16-year-old girl who was killed during the protests, has accused authorities of threatening her to make a forced confession over the death of her daughter.

Nika went missing on September 20 after going out to join the protests in Tehran.

Her mother, Nasrin Shahkarami, said a forensic report found that she had been "killed due to repeated blunt force trauma to the head".

"I saw my daughter's body myself ... the back of her head showed she had suffered a very severe blow because her skull had caved in. That's how she was killed."

The authorities had tried to call her several times but she has refused to answer, she said.

"But they have called others, my uncles, others, saying that if Nika's mother does not come forward and say the things we want, basically confess to the scenario that we want and have created, then we will do this and that, and threatened me."

Nika's family had planned to bury her in the western city of Khorramabad on what would have been her 17th birthday, but authorities did not allow her family to lay her to rest and her uncle was later arrested, according to human rights groups.

The aunt later appeared on television saying Nika had been thrown from a multi-storey building.

Human rights groups are calling for an unbiased investigation into her death.

Updated: October 07, 2022, 6:34 AM