Activist and Mother of Slain Protestor Summoned to Court Same Day Intelligence Minister Denounces Arrests of Activists
Human rights activist Shahnaz Akmali was summoned to court for unspecified charges on the same day the head of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry—the authority that initially arrested her—announced his opposition to the arrests of peaceful activists.
Akmali became an activist after her son, Mostafa Karimbeigi, was killed by a bullet to the head during the peaceful protests against the result of Iran’s disputed 2009 election.
“The prosecutor’s office contacted her by phone and told her she must appear in court. No written summons has been issued, so we don’t know what the exact reason is,” a source close to the family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 12, 2017.
“There’s a case against her at the Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison, so we think they want to hear her final defense,” added the source, who requested anonymity. “In any case, she has to appear in court on Saturday [July 15] and find out.”
The day Akmali was summoned to the court in Tehran’s Evin Prison, July 11, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi told reporters it’s “wrong” to arrest peaceful activists.
“I say this not as a cleric or academic, but as a security official and the reason is that reporters and people engaged in cultural, economic and political activities are part of our society and it would be wrong to use intimidation and harsh methods against them,” he said.
His comments marked the second time in less than six months that the intelligence minister publicly denounced cracking down on peaceful activism.
Previously Alavi had said that the ministry was not created for intimidating the population.
“The Intelligence Ministry is supposed to deal with elements who cause insecurity with practical actions and thoughtful solutions, not by rounding and bounding them up,” he said on March 14, 2017.
“When we are fighting the [foreign] enemy, we will use intimidation, but when we are dealing with our own people, we have to use ethical intelligence methods,” he added.
Akmali was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry on January 25, 2017 and interrogated in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 for three weeks without access to a lawyer.
On February 18 she was released on bail set at 100 million tomans ($31,000 USD) and warned by Intelligence Ministry agents not to make any comments to the media or on social media.
Despite many fruitless attempts, Akmali continues to seek justice for her son, who was shot on December 27, 2009 during what came to be known as the “Ashura protests.
Ashura, the holiest religious day in Iran, turned into one of the bloodiest days of the year in 2009 when at least seven protesters including Beigi were killed and hundreds were arrested.
It remains unclear who shot Karimbeigi, but the authorities initially concealed his location after he was killed, and subsequently refused to conduct an investigation into his murder.