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A Year Later: Suppression Continues in Iran

The authorities began raiding opposition campaign offices and newspapers, including Mousavi’s main office, and arresting campaign volunteers and leaders on Election Day. Warrants were rarely presented at the time of arrest, but a few detainees managed to see their warrants at some point during the process. At least some of them were issued before the election.

Journalists and activists were dragged away on the night of June 12 and very early on the morning of June 13. Somayyeh Tohidloo, a blogger, political activist and Mousavi supporter, was arrested at her parents’ home at 3 a.m. without a warrant or an explanation. Two months later, Judge Hossein Haddad acknowledged that Tohidloo should already have been released, but he explained that Mortazavi had personally intervened to halt her release. Two days after this public acknowledgement, she was finally released on bail.

Blogger and human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari was not home at 1 a.m. on June 14 when her residence was raided and belongings confiscated. The authorities arrested her the next day at her office. Ahari was released on bail from Evin on September 23 after posting a high bail of 200 million Tomans [US$200,000].

Another person who was not home that night when authorities came to arrest him was Masoud Bastani. In his place, the security forces detained his wife and two of her guests. The first was Behzad Bashoo, a cartoonist who was released on July 8, and the second was Khalil Mirashrafi, a TV producer and journalist. Only hours later after these arrests, Bastani tried to turn himself in, so that his pregnant wife, Mahsa Amrabadi, would be released. The authorities declined his request and held on to his wife, a journalist for Etemad Melli, for over two months before she was released on August 23.

That night, the security forces also arrested a large number of activists, including leaders in media and the student movement. Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, the editor of the monthly publication Naameh and a member of the central committee of the Society for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, was arrested. Security forces stormed Samimi’s house and arrested him in the middle of the night, and confiscated his computer and other personal property.

Also arrested was Ahmad Zeidabadi, a well-known journalist and the secretary general of Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat, the alumni/student organization whose members are regular targets of arrest and detention. After the election, nearly all current and former members of this organization’s leadership were taken into custody. Abbas Hakimzadeh, the political director of Tahkim-e Vahdat, was arrested in the winter of 2009 and released on July 8, 2009. Early in the morning on November 19, security forces raided his home, confiscated his computer and rearrested him.

Security forces also arrested politically influential and well-connected members of the political elite and icons of the 1979 revolution. Sometimes these arrests lasted for short periods, as in the case of Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of the former president of the Islamic Republic. He was reportedly arrested on June 14, and released by the next day, although authorities tried to deny that he had been arrested at all. Others remain in prison.

Mohsen Mirdamadi, Secretary General of the largest pro-reform party in Iran, the Islamic Iran Participation Front was arrested on June 13. Mirdamadi was one of three student leaders who stormed the United States Embassy in 1979 and is considered a hero of the revolution by the Islamic regime. Formerly a member of the Majlis, the Guardian Council banned him from running for reelection in February 2008. He was released 24 hours after his arrest; however, unlike Khatami, he was rearrested on June 20. Following his second arrest, he was imprisoned in Evin and forbidden contact with his family for over a month.

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Reports, Right to Protest, Imprisonment