An Iranian teenager has died after security forces beat her for refusing to sing a pro-regime song during a raid on her school.
“Horrific to think that a government would do this to the youngest members of its society,” Lisa Daftari, a Middle East expert and editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk, told Fox News Digital.
“Over the last month, we’ve seen so many young people come out onto the streets in peaceful protest, only asking for the most basic of freedoms,” she continued. “This regime has used every opportunity to use brutal force to round up, torture, rape and kill its youngest citizens.”
The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran posted a Telegram message that Asra Panahi, 16, died following the incident involving Shahed high school students in Ardabil on Oct. 13.
City officials allegedly took students from the school and brought them to a pro-government demonstration and asked them to sing the anthem, some students refused to sing, prompting a beating from security forces, Radio Free Europe reported.
Ten students suffered injuries severe enough to warrant immediate medical attention, with seven other students also sustaining injuries. Panahi died in hospital the following day.
Persian-language news outlet Manoto reported that Panahi’s brother Mohammad Reza attempted suicide following his sister’s death. He was rushed to Khomeini Hospital for “drug poisoning,” where witnesses claimed to see government security agents.
Daftari told Fox News Digital that Panahi’s uncle had allegedly gone on state TV to say his niece had not died from a beating but instead due to a “congenital heart issue.”
The government remains keen to show great unity in the face of widespread protests that have lasted over a month following the death of another young woman – 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who allegedly breached hijab (headscarf) rules, which prompted the morality police to arrest her.
She then went to hospital, with the police saying she had slipped into a coma while her family claimed she had sustained injuries consistent with a beating. Amini died a few days later.
Officials responded to the widespread protests by organizing counter-protests to show regime support while the army warned that it would confront “the enemies” behind the unrest, Reuters reported.
Anti-regime protests have spread to over 140 cities, towns and villages across 31 provinces, according to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Over 233 protesters have died at the hands of regime forces, with over 5,500 protesters arrested.
Most recently, Iran’s central prison for detaining political prisoners, Evin Prison, burned over the weekend as the inmates fled and guards fired on them. State media denied any connection between the protests and the fire.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.