Blacklisted Tehran University Student Activist Detained Incommunicado
Iranian authorities have refused to provide information about the location or condition of student activist Soha Mortezaei since she was arrested a month ago at the University of Tehran’s Fatemieh dormitory on November 17, 2019.
Her family is particularly worried because university officials had previously threatened to subject the young woman to electric shock therapy at a psychiatric facility to punish her for refusing to halt her activism, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has been informed.
“Our guess is that Soha is being held in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 under the control of the Intelligence Ministry, but no one is explaining where she is,” a source close to the Mortezaei family told CHRI on December 12 on condition of anonymity to protect their security.
“We don’t know if she has been arrested for her previous conviction or her sit-in protest or because of a new charge,” added the source. “The authorities are not responding to the family’s inquiries and university officials have said they want to tackle the problem by sending her to a mental hospital. This is very worrisome.”
A former secretary of the University Trade Unions’ Council of Iran (UTUCI), security agents arrested Mortezaei a month after she launched a sit-in at the university to protest being denied enrollment in a PhD program because she is an activist.
In September 2018, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Mortezaei to six years in prison and banned her from political activities for two years. She was awaiting a decision on her appeal before being re-arrested.
On December 4, the independent Persian-language news website Akhbar-Rooz reported that during a meeting with the Mortezaei family in October 2019, Esmail Soleimani, the head of security at the University of Tehran, threatened to force electric shock therapy on Soha “if she refuses to stop her activities.”
“Majid Sarsangi, the university’s deputy chancellor in charge of cultural affairs, warned a group of student activists that Mortezaei would be dealt with in any shape possible, ‘even by sending her to a mental hospital if necessary,’” said CHRI’s source.
Mortezaei had chosen attorney Mostafa Nili to represent her but as part of an ongoing practicing of denying due process to detainees held for political reasons, judicial authorities banned Lili from retaining Mortezaei as a client.
“Based on news reports in recent days, I’m worried about her condition,” Nili tweeted on December 9.
Read this article in Persian.
This article was corrected on November 28, 2022, to show that Ms. Mortezaei’s first name is Soha, not Saha.