The grave of Mahsa Amini, the young Iranian Kurdish woman whose death sparked a protest movement that rattled Iran’s clerical leadership, has been vandalised, according to activists and the family lawyer.
Amini, 22, died in September after being arrested by Tehran’s morality police for purportedly flouting the strict dress rules for women in the Islamic republic.
The protests that began after her death challenged the Islamic system that has ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution. They have weakened in amplitude over the last months but actions still continue.
Amini, who had been visiting Tehran with her family, is buried in her hometown of Saqez in Iran’s Kurdistan province with activists alleging the authorities are determined to prevent any public rallying around it.
The France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) said that the grave, which features her Kurdish name Zhina in large Persian letters, had been attacked on the morning of May 21.
Images published on social media, said to be from the Instagram account of her brother Ashkan, showed that the glass protecting a portrait of Amini at the head of the tombstone had shattered.
“Sadly, on Sunday morning, people who are already known to us, and who have done the same things in the past, attacked the grave of Zhina Mahsa Amini,” the family’s lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said in a statement published by KHRN.
He did not specify who these individuals were, while adding the authorities had previously intervened to prevent the construction of a protective canopy over the grave.
“So the glass of your tombstone also bothers them? Let them break it a thousand times, we will make it again, let’s see who gets tired,” Ashkan Amini said in his social media post.
Amini’s family and supporters maintain she was killed by a blow to the head while in police custody although the authorities have so far insisted her death was caused by a heart attack brought on by previous ill health.
Activists accuse the authorities of suppressing the protests with a crackdown that has left over 500 dead, according to Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights.
Iran has also hanged seven men in protest-related cases in what campaigners describe as a deliberate policy to create a climate of fear thorough capital punishment.
Amnesty International warned this week another seven men are at risk of being executed in connection with the protests.