Six months after Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody sparked a wave of public anger against Iran’s clerical establishment, her father continues to visit her daughter's grave every day.
In an interview with IranWire ahead of Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, Ajmal Amini stated that his family remains dedicated to seeking justice and obtaining the truth regarding the death of the 22-year-old woman.
He also expressed deep sadness over the violence that swept the country following his daughter’s tragic death.
Mahsa’s family is from the northwestern Kurdish city of Saqqez. The young woman died during a visit to Tehran on September 16 after she was arrested by “morality police” for allegedly wearing the mandatory headscarf improperly.
The authorities claim Mahsa died of natural causes, but eyewitnesses and her family say she was beaten while inside a police van that took her to a detention center.
The Judiciary Hasn’t Granted “Any of our Requests”
In the interview with IranWire, Ajmal expressed deep disappointment with the lack of impartiality demonstrated by judiciary in this case.
"Unfortunately, since the beginning, the county’s judicial system has not responded to my complaints and requests, nor have they responded to the [family’s] lawyer in charge of the case,” he said.
The family has also requested a review of the footage recorded by an officer's body camera inside the van, but without success.
“We also demanded that lawyers representing the case be allowed to investigate and speak with women who were arrested and were with Mahsa in the van. Despite our persistent requests, the judicial system has yet to respond or grant any of our requests,” Ajmal said.
“I’m Deeply Sad about these Events"
Mahsa’s death triggered widespread protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes in the country. The authorities responded to the women-led protest movement with brutal force, killing more than 520 demonstrators and unlawfully detaining over 20,000, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
"My daughter's tragic death sparked widespread protests and outcry both inside and outside the country. However, we didn’t expect these protests and reactions to come at such a high cost for the people,” Ajmal said.
“With the right approach, strategy and planning, it would have been possible to prevent these unpleasant events and control the protests. These incidents affected me greatly.”
“I wish I was the only one in grief following this tragedy and that no one else was harmed. I’m deeply sad about these events," Mahsa’s father said.
Ajmal expressed mixed emotions over the fact that his daughter has become a symbol of Iranian women's resistance.
"On the one hand, seeing multiple images of our daughter makes us happy, but, on the other hand, it constantly reminds us of her," he said.
“Her death is still fresh in our minds,” he continued. “However, overall, both her mother and I are pleased that the world is paying attention to our daughter's fate. Also, since Mahsa's unjust death has prompted the people of Iran to express their demands, her legacy and the people's response is something we take pride in."
Ajmal spoke about his family’s relationship with those who lost their loved ones in the bloody state crackdown on the protest movement.
"Several families have offered their condolences and contacted me. Even families in [the western Kurdish city of] Sanandaj who have lost their loved ones in this movement have contacted me and suggested that we prepare a written complaint on behalf of all families who have lost their children or loved ones and send it to the highest international judicial bodies.”
“However, I personally opposed this and explained that I’ve filed an individual complaint and am awaiting a response. Despite pointing this out to the judiciary and officials, I haven’t received any response to this day."
According to Amjad, the judiciary has also failed to respond to the requests for justice from the families of other victims.
“We will be forced to take international legal action if we do not achieve any results” through the Iranian judicial system," he added.
“It Feels Empty Here, so Empty”
Mahsa's family and many other Iranians will have to begin the new year with sadness at the loss of loved ones who have been killed by the Islamic Republic.
"We can never forget her memory. Wherever we look in this house, Mahsa's memory comes to life, especially for my wife who was her close friend. Mahsa's loss is a deep wound that will never heal. I feel very sad, truly sad. It feels empty here, so empty,” Amjad said.
He said that the empathy shown by the public provides comfort and solace to the family.
"Every day, when I visit Jeina's (Mahsa) grave, the presence of people is comforting. In the past six months, there hasn’t been a day when people didn’t come to pay their respects to Mahsa. They bring bunches of flowers. People’s kindness and love not only bring us happiness, but also peace and encouragement," he said.
When asked what the family was planning for New Year’s Eve, Amjad answered, "We will definitely go to Mahsa's grave.”