String of arrests in volatile Kurdish towns in Iran    Thu. 4 Aug 2005


Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 04 – A number of journalists and human rights defenders have been arrested in towns and cities in western Iran, according to human rights activists in the Iranian capital.

Mahmoud Salehi, the spokesman for the Organisational Committee to Establish Trade Unions, was arrested in the early hours of Thursday. The arrest follows Wednesday’s nabbing of two Kurdish activists in the city of
Sanandaj by plainclothes security agents.

Jalal Qavami, a journalist and a member of the editorial board of the journal Payam-e Mardom, was arrested at his place of work after agents of
Iran’s dreaded Ministry of Intelligence and Security initially raided his residence. Azad Zamani, an activist in the Association in Defence of Children’s Rights was also arrested in Sanandaj. Previously, Madeh Ahmadi was arrested in the Kurdish city.

The news comes as the death toll from Wednesday’s clashes between people and State Security Forces in the town of
Saqqez reached 13. Official media have been silent on the deaths but several outlets have reported that clashes took place.

According to local hospital officials, authorities have refused to hand over the corpse of seven of those killed that are currently being held at the morgue.

Roya Toloui, the editor of Rassan, a monthly based in Sanandaj, was also recently arrested during a gathering organised in protest against the murder of a young Kurd by Iran’s State Security Forces after she was summoned by the intelligence unit of the SSF on several occasions in the past few months on charges of “disturbing the peace” and “acting against national security”. She had also been accused of “inciting ethnic division”.

Tens of other demonstrators in the volatile Kurdish town have also been arrested according to eye-witness reports. Many more have been arrested during anti-government protests and clashes throughout the provinces of Kurdistan and Western Azerbaijan.