No sign Iran is easing harsh treatment of protesters, US says

Role of morality police remains in spotlight after death of Mahsa Amini

Iranians protest after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. AP / Middle East Images
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The US has seen nothing to suggest that authorities in Tehran are easing their harsh treatment of women and protesters, the State Department said on Monday, a day after an official in Iran suggested the country's notorious morality police were being shut down.

The morality police have been blamed for the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in September after arresting her for allegedly breaching the country's strict dress code for women. She subsequently died in their custody, triggering continuing, nationwide protests that have been brutally suppressed.

On Sunday, Iran's attorney general suggested operations by the morality police had been suspended, but on Monday the US State Department said it could not corroborate the claim.

“We have seen the reports but will not comment on ambiguous or vague claims by Iranian officials,” a State Department representative told The National.

“Sadly, nothing we have seen suggests Iran's leadership is improving its treatment of women and girls or ceasing the violence it inflicts on peaceful protesters.”

Indeed, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Monday issued what appeared to be a threat against protesters, saying that security forces would show no mercy towards “rioters, thugs and terrorists”.

The State Department said the international community’s position is “unequivocal”.

“Women in Iran should be free from restrictive dress codes, violence, and harassment,” the representative said.

“The people of Iran should be able to peacefully express themselves however they wish, free from intimidation and violence at the hands of state authorities.”

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Updated: December 05, 2022, 2:02 PM