More than 10 Onlookers Arrested in Area Where Former King’s Remains Allegedly Found
Arrests include former political prisoner Kamran Ayazi and Maryam Shariatmadari
More than 10 people were arrested on April 25, 2018 south of Tehran, where construction crews discovered a mummified body, said to be possibly the remains of Reza Shah (1878-1944), sources told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Among the arrested were former political prisoner Kamran Ayazi and Maryam Shariatmadari, who has been sentenced to prison by a preliminary court for her protest against compulsory hijab. Both were freed on bail on April 27, CHRI has learned.
“Maryam Shariatmadari’s mother contacted me and said Maryam had been arrested in a very bad and violent manner on April 25 in Shahr-e Rey (16 miles south of Tehran) and she was handcuffed and blindfolded and taken to an unknown location,” said human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, who serves as Maryam’s lawyer.
The mother was present during the incident and briefly arrested but released after a few hours, Sotoudeh told CHRI on April 26.
Known as one of the “Girls of Revolution Street” protesting against mandatory hijab for women in Iran, Maryam Shariatmadari (32) was sentenced on March 25, 2018 to a year in prison by Branch 1091 of the Tehran Criminal Court for “encouraging corruption by removing her hijab.” The verdict has been appealed.
Crowds have been gathering around an area where Reza Shah’s mausoleum, destroyed days after the 1979 Revolution, once stood. Unconfirmed press reports have said a body found there resembled the former king who founded the Pahlavi Dynasty in 1925.
An eyewitness who spoke to CHRI on April 25, said police attacked the crowd of mostly curious onlookers around the construction site and arrested more than 10 people.
“Some of the people, who clearly appeared to be fans of Reza Shah, were worried that the Islamic Republic would try to get rid of his mummified body. But others had just come there out of curiosity. The police attacked both groups and I saw them arrest at least 10 people who were taken away in police vehicles,” said the source who asked not to be identified.
An informed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CHRI that Ayazi, a dentist who served six years in prison until August 2016 for peaceful political activities, was among those arrested.
“Mr. Ayazi went to Shahr-e Rey after he heard the news about the mummy’s discovery but did not return that night. His family became worried when he didn’t come back,” said the source.
Reza Shah, despised by some as a dictator and loved by others for introducing Iran to modern concepts at the expense of the Shia religious establishment, has been enjoying a revival in recent years among the opponents of the Islamic Republic. As recently as December 2017, protesters at rallies in Iran were heard chanting his name (“Reza Shah, bless your soul”).
The king’s grandson, Reza Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the U.S., issued a statement on April 25, saying he believed the body was “most likely” his grandfather’s remains.
Iranian officials have so far made no comment.