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Iran: Widespread arrests of journalists and activists on the threshold of the 1979 revolution anniversary

Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Poster for Iranian Political Prisoners
Iran's Green Opposition Movement is gearing up for another show of force
on February 11, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution

Widespread arrests of activists

Mass arrests of social, women's rights, and political activists during the ten days leading to Islamic Revolution's Anniversary has continued with arrests of Maryam Ghanbari, a member of the Maydan women's group, and Mah-Farid Mansourian, an environmental activist. Most arrests were made during midnight hours and through a blanket arrest warrant and most arrested individuals were not informed about the reasons for their arrests. Some of those arrested were told that the reason for their arrest was participation in gatherings. Mahfarid Mansourian, 55, was imprisoned for six years in the 1980's.

Several sources told International Campaign for Human Rights that the arrested individuals have been transferred to Evin Prison. In all cases, the arresting officers searched the premises and took away personal computers, hand-written notes, and some personal items of the arrested individuals. Maryam Ghanbari was one of the last ones to be arrested in her home on the afternoon of February 8, 2010. She is an attorney, a member of Maydan Group, and a member of the Iranian Bar Association Independence Campaign. This campaign was formed after a revised set of bylaws were proposed for the Iranian Bar Association, turning it into a subset of Iranian Judiciary. Upon a request by prominent Iranian lawyers, then Judiciary Head Ayatollah Shahroudi agreed to table the proposal for six months. Ghanbari was born in 1983 and is a Jurisprudence graduate of Allameh Tabatabaee University.

Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi, Maziar samiee, Mahsa Jazini, and Somayeh Momeni (the last two were arrested on February 9, 2010), members of the One Million Signatures Campaign are among those detained over the past ten days, about whose fate there is no information. Security Officers also arrested Zeinab Kazem Zadeh (arrested at 2:00 a.m. on February 7, 2010), Niloofar Laripour (arrested on February 2, 2010), female journalist Nooshin Jafari, Nazanin Farzanjoo, Golnaz Tavassoli, and student activists Nazanin Hassan Nia, Sahar Ghassemi Nejad (arrested on February 3 and 4, 2010). Arts arena activists Jamileh and Banafsheh Darolshafaee (arrested on February 4, 2010) and Ali Kalaee, member of Committee of Human Rights Reporters are also among those arrested. Golnaz Tavassoli who is an Arts student at Tehran Azad University was arrested by security police on the afternoon of February 4, 2010 at her home.

Mahsa Jazini worked with the Isfahan Section of Iran Newspaper, but was also active as a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Isfahan. She was also a "Starred Student" of Allameh Tabatabai University who was denied continuation of her education because of her social activities in the women's rights field. She is at Isfahan's Dastgerd Prison now. Niloofar Laripour who is a poet and lyricist and in charge of music section of Chelcheragh Weekly has had no other political activities other than attending Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign headquarters [during the June presidential elections].

Jamileh Darolshafaie was arrested after appearing at Ministry of Information's offices following her summons. Intelligence officers asked her to tell her family to come to the Ministry of Information. After her sister and parents turned up, her sister Banafsheh was arrested. Her parents were also interrogated for several hours. Officers accompanied her parents to their home and searched the premises. Jamileh Darolshafaie is a graduate of music school who teaches music. She is also a screenwriter.

Sahar Ghassem Nejad and Nazanin Hassan Nia who belong to families of those executed in the 1980's were arrested at 4:00 a.m. on February 3, 2010. Several sources have told the Campaign that these two were not involved in any political activities. Nazanin's aunt spent time in prison in the 1980's. The only link these two have with recent detentions is through Omid Montazeri and her mother Mahin Fahimi who were among those arrested. Mahin Fahimi's husband was executed in 1987 along with an unknown number of other political prisoners. Islamic Republic of Iran's authorities have never made any statements about these executions, choosing to remain silent.

Nazanin Farzanjoo is a student of French Translation who worked with a group of human rights activists. She was arrested at her home in Mehrshahr, Karaj, on February 2, 2010. Sama Bahmani was also arrested on February 2, 2010 in Mahabad. She is from Bandar Abbas and was arrested with her husband last August after publishing reports about violations of human rights in Kurdistan. Sanandaj Courts had sentenced her to three years' suspended imprisonment for "propagation against the regime," and "membership in human rights organizations." In her verdict she was asked to avoid commuting in the Kurdish region and fraternizing with political individuals.

Journalists Akbar Montajabi, Ehsan Mehrabi, Jalali Farahani, Ali Kalaee, and Somayeh Momeni in Prison

Akbar Montajabi a prominent journalist with reformist newspapers and magazines who works for the Irandokht publication was arrested by the security agents at two o'clock on Sunday morning. Montajabi previously worked for such publications as Yas-e-No, Shargh, and Etemaad Meli and also for weekly publication Shahrvand-e Emrooz as a reporter in the political section. On the same night, Ehsan Mehrabi, parliament reporter of the Farikhtegan newspaper was arrested at his home. Mehrabi's credentials also include working for Hambastagi newspaper. In addition to these two, Zainab Kazemkhah, the literary reporter of ISNA was also arrested on Sunday morning in her home.

Ahmad Jalali Farahani, the editor of social services of Mehr News Agency, was also arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning, only one day after being terminated from his position at Mehr News Agency. He worked a Iran Newspaper, which is affiliated with the Islamic Republic and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and is considered a pro-government publication. Somayeh Momeni, reporter for Nasim'e Bidari, who was previously a reporter for Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), was also arrested at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning at her house.

Following the arrest of Committee of Human Rights Reporters members, Ali Kalaee, another member of this young human rights group was also arrested. Kalaee who at the moment is serving his military service must await his court case in military courts. Kalaee has been arrested twice before. The first time it was in the December 2008, and the second time in May 2009, after which he spent one month in Evin prison.

Arrest of journalist Vahid Pourostad

Vahid Pourostad, an experienced Iranian journalist was arrested at his home on Monday night on a warrant issued by Tehran Prosecutor's Office.  Only two days before the February 11th anniversary of the Islamaic Revolution, the widespread arrests of social activists and journalists has now reached Mr. Pourostad.  Pourostad who has published several books, is an experienced editor with Iranian press.  One of his friends told International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Pourostad was arrested at his mother-in-law's home.  His home was later searched and his laptop computer and hand-written notes were confiscated.  Arresting officers did not give his family their reasons for his arrest.

He had served as a member of editorial boards of Mosharekat, Yas-e No, and Vaghaye Ettefaghieh newspapers.  Pourostad was also one of the founding members of the Etemad Melli Newspaper's editorial board.  He was dismissed from his position at Etemad Melli Newspaper last year.

Farhikhtegan was the last newspaper on whose editorial board Pourostad served.  He wrote for many reformist newspapers such as Etemad Melli, Mosharekat, and Salam.  

Vahid Pourostad is author and producer of a book series related to legal documents pertaining to Iranian press.  Some of the books he has published are "Tous [Newspaper] Trial," "Ava [Publication] Trial," and "Adineh [Publication] Trial," in which he discussed the formation of these publications and their court trial proceedings.

... Payvand News - 02/09/10 ... --

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