1st June 2011 – FIDH and LDDHI have learned from reliable first hand sources in Iran that Ms. Haleh Sahabi, daughter of Mr. Ezzatollah Sahabi, a veteran patriotic political leader, died this morning as a result of brutal mishandling by Security agents, during the funeral ceremony for her father.
Karim Lahidji, Vice-president of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and President of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), said today: “The Iranian security agents have attacked the peaceful funeral procession of the veteran patriotic and independent political leader who had spent more than 16 years of his life in the prisons of two successive regimes. Her daughter, Haleh Sahabi, died after a brutal attack by plain-clothed agents. The authorities know no boundaries when it comes to clinging to their power and denying people their rights. We believe those responsible for such brutal attacks are acting with guaranteed impunity in the absence of an independent and competent judiciary. ”
The funeral procession had initially been scheduled for 8:30 am today, but yesterday the intelligence and security organisations ordered the family of Mr. Sahabi to begin it at 7 am, as a result of which a large number of people missed the event. Nevertheless, a sizeable crowd attended the procession.
Ms. Haleh Sahabi led the procession with a bunch of flowers and a picture of her father. The plain-clothed agents charged forward and tried to rip off the picture. Eye-witnesses said that the security agents used batons and Ms. Haleh Sahabi fell down and died on her way to hospital.
While the official Iranian media have reported the cause of her death simply as ‘heart arrest’, Mr. Fereydoon Sahabi, her uncle, said that she had died as a result of ‘blows to her chest and stomach and subsequent heart arrest after falling down.’
Ms. Haleh Sahabi was a women’s rights defender, a member of Mothers for Peace group and an interpreter of the Koran. She was taken to prison on 31st January 2011 to serve a two-year imprisonment sentence after being arrested twice during peaceful protests in 2009 and being charged for “propaganda against the system” and “disturbing public order.” At the time of her demise, she had been given a temporary leave from prison to visit her sick father.
More than 30 people were reportedly detained including another veteran Islamic nationalist, Dr. Habibollah Peyman, at the funeral procession.
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Mr. Sahabi, a veteran Islamic nationalist, died at the age of 81 in a hospital in Tehran on 30 May 2011. He was a political prisoner for at least 13 years under the Shah’s regime in the 1960s and 1970s. After the revolution, he served in the government and was an MP, before spending several years in prison under the present Iranian regime.