Reformist MP Enquires About Students Detained in Iranian Protests
Four Sufi Gonabadi Dervishes Detained Without Charge
A member of the reformist women’s faction in Iran’s Parliament has publicly enquired about the condition of university students who were arrested since anti-state protests broke out in Iran on December 28, 2017.
“While I am committed to gradual reform and have respect for the right to criticize without resorting to extremism and violence, I believe it is my duty to ask the Science Ministry, as well as judicial and security authorities about the condition of the detained students,” tweeted MP Fatemeh Saeidi on January 1, 2018.
Four members of the Sufi Gonabadi Dervish order, including three university students, have been held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 without charge since December 30, 2017.
“The IRGC agents went to the hospital intent on arresting Sharifi Moghaddam,” the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “When he asked to see a warrant, the agents suddenly decided to arrest the four others as well. The dervishes resisted and the agents called for backup forces, which used tasers to apprehend them.
Continued the source: “One of the agents even fired a shot into the ceiling of the hospital lobby. When a medical staff member complained, the agent shouted back with obscenities and then the detainees were violently put into a vehicle and taken away.”
“They also confiscated the hospital security cameras and hard disks without a court order,” added the source.
The Gonabadi Order’s interpretation of Islam differs from that of Iran’s ruling Muslim Shia establishment. The Islamic Republic views any alternative belief system, especially those seeking converts, as a threat to the prevailing Shia establishment and continues to imprison Gonabadi Dervishes as part of an ongoing persecution campaign.
Kasra Nouri, Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Faezeh Abdipour, Mohammad Reza Darvish and Zafarali Moghimi were arrested while they were visiting fellow dervish Hamidreza Moradi at Day General Hospital on December 30, 2017, a source close to the order told CHRI.
Moghimi was released the same evening. Nouri is a law student at Tehran University, Abdipour studies political science at Allameh Tabataba’i University and Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam is an engineering student at the Sharif University of Technology.
The day after the arrests, a group of dervishes protested in front of the entrance to Evin Prison. Videos of the demonstration shared on social media show some of the demonstrators lying on the street to block vehicles belonging to the police and security forces.
On January 1, 2018, the University Trade Unions’ Council of Iran (UTUCI) issued a statement condemning the arrests of 17 students during the recent anti-government protests in Iran.
“The repeated harassment and detention of students for so-called security reasons and allowing the security forces to violate the university’s sacred space undermines the legal authority of the Science Ministry,” said the statement. “We will counter by using all our organizational powers to seek justice and the release of shackled students.”
“With numerous protests taking place throughout the country against high living expenses and unemployment, what is the university’s role? Should students stand by and witness… the growing deprivations facing future generations? No, we have not and will not be silent,” added the statement.
The detained students include the following people.
Tehran University: Leila Hassanzadeh, Sina Rabiei, Mohsen Haghshenas, Mikaeil Gholirad, Pedram Pazireh, Mohammad Mohammadian, Ali Mozaffari, Mehdi Vahabi-Sani, Sohein Movahedan, Arash Avari, Danial Iman, Amir-Hossein Elmtalab, Majid Akbari, Mohsen Torabi, Kasra Nouri, Aref Fathi, Mohsen Mir-Hosseini and Mohammad Javaheri.
Allameh Tabataba’i University: Sama Derakhshani, Faezeh Abdipour, Majid Mosafer, Mohammad Khani, Siavash Amjadi, Mohsen Shahsavan and Sina Ghaffari.
Sharif University of Technology: Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam.
On January 2, Science Minister Mansour Gholami said he had scant information about the detainees but said he had helped some of them get released.
“I don’t have precise information but some of the detainees were freed yesterday after the head of Tehran University and I intervened,” he told the semi-official Mehr News Agency.
“If someone has been arrested in the streets, we will not know about it until we are informed,” he added. “We acted on cases we knew about.”