top of page

Source: IranWire

Nov 15, 2023

Iranian Woman Arrested on Mahsa Anniversary Tells Her Story


According to the Committee for the Follow-Up of the Situation of Detainees, at least 600 women were arrested during street gatherings in Tehran on September 16, which marked the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death in police custody.

In its report, the group said that, as of September 21, at least 130 women awaited trial in the quarantine ward of Qarchak prison. 

Some were released on bail shortly after their cases were referred to the court, while others were granted bond.

This report is the narration of Somaiyeh, which is a pseudonym for one of the women arrested on September 16. 


On the morning of September 16, independent groups called on Tehran residents to gather between Azadi Square and Tehran Pars at 11 a.m.

"They advised us not to resist if we encountered an officer. If questioned about our presence there, we were told to move to another direction,” Somaiyeh tells IranWire.

"I left my two small daughters with my mother, saying I'd return unless something happened, and took a taxi to Imam Khomeini Hospital.

"Jamalzadeh Street was bustling with people, yet everyone appeared as mere passersby. As we marched, we noticed officers lining up on North Street. 

"I encountered other women near the university, and we proceeded together. Right in front of the entrance of [the University of Tehran], the first act of violence unfolded" when officials beat up a young man.

As the women continued their march, “officials suddenly attacked people on South Palestine Street."

"One girl and two boys fled, and I witnessed them firing at the girl. A newspaper seller said he could hide the wounded girl and advised me and my friends to leave," Somaiyeh recounts.

The group headed to Daneshjoo Park, which was “filled with officers.” A person in plainclothes approached the group and said: “Don't sit here, move away.”

Simultaneously, a group of motorcyclists headed to the park. 

"I was seated on the left side. One of the motorcyclists, who was carrying a baton, shouted: ‘Go away, leave this place.' I planned to take a taxi, but another one wielding a baton stopped me.

"I was extremely scared. Amidst many plainclothes agents, a police officer said: “Don't resist, they'll let you go if you're innocent.’"

Somaiyeh saw a van approaching: "I was shocked, I noticed they were apprehending ordinary people and passersby."

The women were forcibly put into the van, where a young woman without distinctive attire took their bags.

"I asked where we were going but received no response, and we departed," Somaiyeh says.

One officer said the women would be free unless they started becoming noisy. 

They were taken to the Fatib police station, where “about 20 vans were filled with men and 10 to 15 vans with women,” Somaiyeh says.

"There were around 800 or 900 people in the Fatib police station. Over 800 phones were confiscated. Subsequently, the authorities instructed us to sit down and promised we would be freed. However, we waited for hours without being given any information.

I'm certain that these pactics were part of a well-orchestrated plan of psychological torture."

In the police station, no officers displayed logos or symbols, she says, adding: "Everyone wore masks and refrained from using names." 

Somaiyeh and a few other detainees were allowed to inform their families of their arrest. 

They were called by name and asked about the location of their arrest and the reason for their presence on the streets. 

They were told that if they had no objections, they would be declared innocent and allowed to leave. 

The women ended up in a prayer house where they were given food. 

At midnight, they were moved to a hall about 300 meters wide. 

One or two detainees objected, and officers started to film the group. Some women without headscarves started chanting. 

At around 4 a.m., they were called by their names again, and repetitive questions and answers ensued. 

The detainees were given breakfast and were then taken to the yard. 

The entire process had been filmed.

Half an hour later, Somaiyeh was taken to the same room and told to wait. 

At 9:30 a.m. she faced a judge in a room with a bed.

When the judge stood up and began shouting obscenities, Somaiyeh told him: “You haven't heard what I have to say yet, why are you labeling me as a criminal without a trial?" 

The judge responded: "For me, there is no difference between you and a murderer. You are all the same."

Eventually, her jailers pressured her to sign a statement and took pictures of her, promising that all the detainees would be released after lunch.

After the meal, the arrested women were left in the courtyard of the Fatib police station until vans arrived.

They were quickly handcuffed and transferred to prison. 

"If we had told you from the beginning, you would have panicked, would have suffered a stroke, and we wouldn't have enjoyed it," one officer said.

Somaiyeh and the women arrived at Qarchak prison around 4:00 p.m.

"Upon arrival, I witnessed a woman in the prison who had been severely beaten, with her entire body showing bruises. Many suffered head injuries caused by powerful blows, yet the prison authorities did not provide medical care. 

"Later, when I encountered that lady again, she said that, while being taken to the hospital, an officer stood in front of her, clenching a fist and threatening: 'If you tell them that I beat you, I'll strike your head with this fist.’"

Somaiyeh spent five days in Qarchak prison and was released on bail on September 24. 

One or two days after her release, she was summoned to the courthouse where she pledged not to participate in street protests again. 

Two weeks later, she was notified that if she committed a crime within a year, the pending case against her would be reopened. 

"Almost everyone arrested that day feels like they are under surveillance, and a sense of peace has vanished from their lives," Somaiyeh says. 

bottom of page