For years, Iranian journalist Nilufar Hamedi, covering the topic of women’s rights, has written influential articles without getting into trouble. Recently, however, she photographed the moment when Mahsa Amini’s parents stood in each other’s arms outside the hospital where their daughter lay in a coma.
The photo Hamedi uploaded to Twitter on September 16 was the first sign of Mahsa Amini’s deteriorating condition. Three days earlier, Amini had been arrested by Iran’s morality police for wearing inappropriate clothing.
Amini’s death later that day unleashed a wave of mass protests across Iran, which in some places have continued for nearly three weeks despite a government crackdown
The photo of her parents was one of the last that the journalist working for the pro-reformation “Shark” published before she was arrested and her Twitter account was blocked.
“This morning intelligence agent raided my client Nilufar Hamedi’s house, arrested her, searched her house, and confiscated her belongings,” her lawyer wrote on September 22 Twitter.
He added that she has not been charged and is being held in solitary confinement in Iran’s Evin prison.
The authorities faced one of their toughest challenges since the 1979 revolution and used violence to quell the biggest public display of dissent in years. At least 185 people have been killed, including 19 minors, hundreds have been injured and thousands have been arrested by security forces, according to rights groups. The Iranian government said more than 20 security forces were killed and would investigate the civilian deaths.
With a passion for women’s rights
The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Iranian authorities to “immediately release all journalists who have been arrested for covering the events surrounding the death of Mahsa Amini and the subsequent protests.”
According to the committee, at least 28 journalists have been detained since last month, including Hamedi. Her friends describe her as a courageous journalist with a passion for women’s issues and rights. Her articles were on topics related to women who suffer from domestic violence. She also interviewed the family of Iranian writer and artist Sepide Rashno, who was arrested in July for violating Iran’s dress code.
“She always crossed boundaries to be a voice for voiceless women disenfranchised, be it by their fathers, husbands, or social boundaries,” a friend of hers told Reuters.
Iranian authorities have blamed a range of enemies for the violence, including armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents. Their bases in Iraq have been repeatedly attacked by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps during the recent unrest.
“We hope Hamedi will return to the newsroom, leave her bag on the table and write about the disenfranchised anonymous women victims of prejudice in Iran,” wrote her editor Shahrzad Hemati on October 11.