Iran: Persecution of civil activists escalates
The crackdown on civil society, even ordinary people who merely celebrated Persian New Year based on their own traditions, appears to have escalated in Iran during the first week after Nowruz holidays. Some celebrations were banned, peaceful activists were fined and detained, and dozens were harassed or sentenced to prison on vague charges.
On February 28 a university professor and translator at the Saudi Embassy was arrested while attending a seminar in Tehran. Dr. Amir Salimi was charged with allegedly “spying for Saudi Arabia” despite being only a translator in this embassy, according to a source close to the professor’s family.
On April 1 Rauf Jalili was arrested without any previous warrant. Intelligence agents reportedly brutally raided his home, according to witnesses. No information is available about his whereabouts or the reason for his arrest. Jalili, 31, is married and has a child.
It is worth noting at least 27 Kurds were arrested for holding ceremonies marking “Nowruz” during the Iranian national celebrations.
The Revolutionary Court of Qazvin sentenced Soheila Kargar, a civil rights activist, to five years behind bars for “disrupting public security.” The edict mentions membership on Telegram groups, an instant messaging app used widely by Iranians, among her charges.
In other reports, a Sunni activist was gunned down on April 2nd, in front of his children by Basiji forces affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Saeid Naeimi, 39, a father of three and suffering from paraplegia, was a cultural activist and a newly convert to Sunni religion in Mahshahr, southwest of Iran.