Iran protest: Woman athlete without hijab faces concern


SEOUL, South Korea –

An Iranian feminine aggressive climber left South Korea on Tuesday after competing at an occasion by which she climbed without her nation’s obligatory head scarf overlaying, authorities stated. Farsi-language media exterior of Iran warned she could have been pressured to depart early by Iranian officers and will face arrest again dwelling, which Tehran shortly denied.

The determination by Elnaz Rekabi, a a number of medallist in competitions, to forgo the pinnacle scarf, or hijab, got here as protests sparked by the Sept. 16 dying in custody of a 22-year-old girl have entered a fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the nation’s morality police over her clothes.

The demonstrations, drawing school-age youngsters, oil employees and others to the road in over 100 cities, symbolize the most-serious problem to Iran’s theocracy because the mass protests surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election.

A later Instagram publish on an account attributed to Rekabi described her not sporting a hijab as “unintentional,” although it wasn’t instantly clear whether or not she wrote the publish or what situation she was in on the time. The Iranian authorities routinely pressures activists at dwelling and overseas, usually airing what rights group describe as coerced confessions on state tv.

Rekabi left Seoul on a Tuesday morning flight, the Iranian Embassy in South Korea stated. The BBC’s Persian service, which has in depth contacts inside Iran regardless of being banned from working there, quoted an unnamed “knowledgeable supply” who described Iranian officers as seizing each Rekabi’s cell phone and passport.

BBC Persian additionally stated she initially had been scheduled to return on Wednesday, however her flight apparently had been moved up unexpectedly.

IranWire, one other web site specializing in the nation based by Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari who as soon as was detained by Iran, alleged that Rekabi could be instantly transferred to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison after arriving within the nation. Evin Prison was the location of an enormous fireplace this weekend that killed not less than eight prisoners.

In a tweet, the Iranian Embassy in Seoul denied “all of the pretend, false information and disinformation” concerning Rekabi’s departure on Tuesday. But as a substitute of posting a photograph of her from the Seoul competitors, it posted a picture of her sporting a head scarf at a earlier competitors in Moscow, the place she took a bronze medal.

Calls to the Iranian Embassy in Seoul rang unanswered Tuesday.

Rekabi did not placed on a hijab throughout Sunday’s remaining on the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asia Championship, in keeping with the Seoul-based Korea Alpine Federation, the organizers of the occasion.

Federation officers stated Rekabi wore a hijab throughout her preliminary appearances on the one-week climbing occasion. She wore only a black headband when competing Sunday, her darkish hair pulled again in a ponytail; she had a white jersey with Iran’s flag as a brand on it.

The later Instagram publish, written within the first individual, provided an apology on Rekabi’s behalf. The publish blamed a sudden name for her to climb the wall within the competitors — though footage of the competitors confirmed Rekabi relaxed as she approached and after she competed. It additionally sought to explain her journey again to Iran on Tuesday as being “on schedule.”

Rekabi was on Iran’s 11-member delegation, comprised of eight athletes and three coaches, to the occasion, in keeping with the federation.

Federation officers stated they weren’t initially conscious of Rekabi competing without the hijab however regarded into the case after receiving inquires about her. They stated the occasion does not have any guidelines on requiring feminine athletes sporting or not sporting head scarves. However, Iranian ladies competing overseas below the Iranian flag all the time put on the hijab.

“Our understanding is that she is returning to Iran, and we’ll proceed to observe the scenario because it develops on her arrival,” the International Federation of Sport Climbing, which oversaw the occasion, stated in an announcement. “It is necessary to emphasize that athletes’ security is paramount for us and we help any efforts to maintain a valued member of our group secure on this scenario.”

The federation stated it had been in contact with each Rekabi and Iranian officers, however declined to elaborate on the substance of these calls when reached by The Associated Press. The federation additionally declined to debate the Instagram publish attributed to Rekabi and the claims in it.

South Korea’s Justice Ministry refused to substantiate whether or not the Iranian athlete continues to be in South Korea or has left the nation, citing privacy-related laws. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry stated it has no feedback on the problem.

Rekabi, 33, has completed on the rostrum 3 times within the Asian Championships, taking one silver and two bronze medals for her efforts.

So far, human rights teams estimate that over 200 folks have been killed within the protests and the violent safety pressure crackdown that adopted. Iran has not provided a dying toll in weeks. Demonstrations have been seen in over 100 cities, in keeping with the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. Thousands are believed to have been arrested.

Gathering details about the demonstrations stays tough, nevertheless. Internet entry has been disrupted for weeks by the Iranian authorities. Meanwhile, authorities have detained not less than 40 journalists, in keeping with the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Iranian officers, together with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly alleged the nation’s international enemies are behind the continued demonstrations, reasonably than Iranians angered by Amini’s dying and the nation’s different woes.

Iranians have seen their life financial savings evaporate; the nation’s foreign money, the rial, plummeted and Tehran’s nuclear take care of world powers has been decreased to tatters.

In an announcement Tuesday, the workplace of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights referred to as for the quick launch of all these “arbitrarily detained” within the protests. It additionally criticized the “unabated violent response by safety forces” that has seen even youngsters reportedly arrested and killed.

“The continued pointless and disproportionate use of pressure in opposition to protesters should cease,” the assertion stated. “Arresting folks solely for exercising their rights of peaceable aggregation and freedom of expression constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers John Marshall in Phoenix and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul contributed to this report.


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