As Iran’s opposition Green Movement gears up for a new round of demonstrations on 14 February, authorities have launched a fresh wave of arrest against journalists, politicians and activists including close associates and relatives of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard.
According to Kalame, Mousavi’s official website, security forces raided the home of former cabinet minister Mohammad Hossein Sharifzadegan on Wednesday night after which he was taken to an unknown location. Sharifzadegan is a professor at Shahid Beheshti University and was a member of 2009 presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s election campaign. The arrest of Sharifzadegan who also happens to be Mousavi’s brother-in-law, is seen as a means of exerting further pressure on the opposition leader ahead of planned demonstrations on 14 February. The march is to be held in solidarity with the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa region.
There is currently no further information on the reason for Sharifzadegan’s arrest or the body responsible for his detention.
In addition, opposition website Jaras reported on Thursday that Saleh Noghreh-Kar, nephew of author and women’s rights activist Zahra Rahnavard was arrested after midnight on Wednesday by Intelligence Ministry forces who inspected his home for four hours before taking him away. The reason behind Noghreh-Kar’s arrest is unknown.
This is Noghreh-kar’s second arrest since the electoral coup d’état of June 2009. During the presidential election, he had been the chairman of the Mousavi campaign’s legal committee.
Also on Wednesday night, security agents detained veteran journalists Meysam Mohammadi and Omid Mohades at their homes. According to Kaleme, the two are also members of the recently founded Shahid Beheshti Foundation.
Meanwhile the Green Voice of Freedom has learned that Sadroddin Beheshti, the son of senior Mousavi aide Alireza Beheshti Shirazai was arrested at his workplace in Tehran on Thursday afternoon.
Fariba Ebtehaj, assistant to Tehran City Council member Masoumeh Ebtekar was also arrested on Thursday. Ebtehaj is also the head of Ebtekar’s office. Ebtekar was an advisor to former President Mohammad Khatami during his presidency.
Also in the long list of detainees were political activist Taghi Rahmani and Shiite cleric Mostafa Mirahmadizadeh, both advisors to Green Movement leader Mahdi Karroubi. The men were arrested on Wednesday.
A member of the Rahmani family told the Persian service of Deutche Welle that as a result of the raid on his house on Wednesday, his wife Narges Mohammadi suffered a nervous breakdown and was taken to Tehran’s Iranmehr hospital for medical attention. Narges Mohammad is a human rights activist, a journalist, Deputy Director of Defenders of Human Rights Centre, Operations Manager of Iran Peace Council, and former member of the Iran Alumni Association’s Policy Council. She was detained on 10 June 2010 and released on 1 July 2010 after a severe deterioration of her health. Following her release, she spent a month in hospital to undergo medical treatment.
The recent wave of arrests is yet another sign of the ruling elite’s growing unease about Monday’s planned demonstration by the opposition. An unelected few who seem to resort to any means in the hope of prolonging the Pharaoh’s rule.
As we approach the fateful day of reckoning on 14 February, we will in all likelihood witness further acts of desperation by a regime terrified to its core.