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Months after Mahsa Amini death, Iran says morality police disbanded. But no one's buying it

DailyO logo DailyO 05-12-2022 Amrutha Pagad
Months after Mahsa Amini death, Iran says morality police disbanded. But no one's buying it © Provided by DailyO Months after Mahsa Amini death, Iran says morality police disbanded. But no one's buying it

Iran's prosecutor general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, reportedly told local media that the government has decided to shut down the morality police in the country. The report comes as Iran continues to see unabating nationwide protests that started after Mahsa Amini's death under the custody of morality police on September 16.

However, other reports say that this is a disinformation campaign being run by Iran's regime to stop the uprising. 

What's happening? The comments reportedly came on Saturday, December 3, at an event about "outlining the hybrid war during recent riots". 

[The morality police] has no connection with the judiciary and was shut down by the same place that it had been launched from in the past…
- Mohammad Jafar Montazeri
  • The Khamenei regime has referred to the nationwide protests by Iranians as "riots". 

What does it mean? It is not clear whether the so-called morality police of Iran - tasked with imposing dress codes in public - was permanently shut down.

  • There were also no other official announcements or comments about the same. 
  • It is also not clear whether disbanding the morality police means that there will be no more mandatory dress codes. 
  • Montazeri is part of the judiciary of Iran, but the control of the morality police lies with the interior ministry and they have not yet commented on it. 
  • Moreover, Montazeri said that the law requiring mandatory dress codes will also be reviewed. 
  • Iran's contradicting comments and actions could also mean that it is trying to run propaganda to quell the discontent. 

Context: Iran's morality police, AKA "Gasht-e Ershad", or the Islamic guidance patrol was established officially over 15 years ago when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the President. 

  • There were other forms of morality police before Gasht-e Ershad.
  • The morality police came to the international limelight this year after the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini in their custody. 
  • Amini was picked up by the morality police for "improperly" wearing her hijab (she was still wearing a headscarf). She died mere days after taken into custody. 
  • Reports alleged that Amini was beaten to death by the morality police. 
  • Amini's death became the cry of millions of Iranians who took to street to protest against the brutality and oppression of the regime. 
  • While the protests started as anti-hijab agitation, it was clear that it wasn't just the dress codes that brought Iranians to the streets. 
  • Dissent against the regime was building for years over unemployment, corruption, lack of personal rights, women's rights, etc. 
A revolution is what we have. Hijab was the start of it and we don't want anything, anything less, but death for the dictator and a regime change.
- BBC quoted a woman protester

Other updates: 

  • Iran reportedly executed four men accused of espionage and collaborating with Israeli intelligence services on Saturday. 
  • Iran, a country that executes the highest number of people annually in the world after China, has also confirmed six other death sentences handed out to people over the recent protests. 
  • Protesters are reportedly planning a 3-day economic strike in Iran and a rally to Tehran's Azadi Square on Wednesday. 
  • Iran's interior ministry released the first official record of deaths due to the unrest on Saturday. According to the government, over 200 people have been killed since September. 
  • However, it didn't mention how, why and who was killed. Those killed also include security forces who clashed with protesters. 
  • On the other hand, a number of international rights organisations estimate that over 400 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests so far including minors. 
  • Washington has said that Tehran has locked itself into a "vicious cycle" that has isolated the regime from its people and the world at large. Rob Malley, the US special envoy on Iran said this:
The more Iran represses [its people], the more there will be sanctions; the more there are sanctions, the more Iran feels isolated. The more isolated they feel, the more they turn to Russia; the more they turn to Russia, the more sanctions there will be, the more the climate deteriorates, and the less likely there will be nuclear diplomacy.
So it is true right now the vicious cycles are all self-reinforcing.
  • The nuclear talks with Iran and the West have come to a virtual standstill; local media reported that Tehran started work on a new nuclear power plant on December 4. 

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