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Recently, 16-year-old schoolgirl Asra Panahi died on October 13, 2022, after Iranian police raided her school and beat her to death after she refused to sing a song praising Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The incident occurred last Thursday at the Shahed Girls High School in Ardabil as a result of protests from many of the girls who attended the school.
All across the country, various Iranian schoolgirls have filmed viral videos of them removing their legally required hijabs, removing pictures of Iran’s leaders, and chanting against the regime. These are in support of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died this August after sustaining injuries at the hands of Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly. In response to these videos, Iranian authorities started to launch police raids of several schools across the country last week.
Videos have shown officers involved in the raid being very brutal to the students, including making them wait in cars outside the school, using teargas, and forcing students to sing pro-regime songs. Moreover, students were beaten when they refused to sing the praise of Iran’s leaders, which led to many hospitalizations and arrests. Although Panahi didn’t die on the scene, she died later in the hospital due to her injuries. This isn’t even the first time a schoolgirl has died due to police beatings, with 17-year-old Nika Shahkarami and 16-year-old Sarina Esmalizadeh having met a similar fate earlier this October. According to Iran’s Human Rights group, as of October 17, 2022, 215 people, with 27 of those being children, have died as a result of participating in protests nationwide.
The news of Panahi’s death caused outrage across Iran, with the country’s teacher’s union condemning the raids as “brutal and inhumane” and calling for Iran’s current education minister, Yousef Nouri, to resign. Iranian officials responded by stating that their security forces had nothing to do with the raids in an attempt to quell the outrage. Moreover, a man claiming to be Panahi’s uncle went on state TV stating that she had died from a congenital heart condition and not from any beating.
However, this did nothing as Panahi’s death only further mobilized protests across the country, many of them by schoolgirls of the same age as her. “What good am I if I simply sit outraged at home? Myself and fellow students across Iran have decided to stand in protest on the streets this week.” said a 16-year-old girl by the name of Naznin. “The regime continues to kill and arrest schoolgirls.” 19-year-old Negris also shares similar views, “It’s not just Asra’s death,” she said. “The Islamic Republic has been killing our people for 40 years, but our voices weren’t heard. Let the world know this is no longer a protest – we are calling for a revolution.”