Iranian authorities have continued to arrest political activists and relatives of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) members as tensions grow across the country around the first anniversary of the November 2019 protests.
The state has so far shut down 150 cities and counties under the pretext of coronavirus restrictions and arrested dozens of people to prevent nationwide protests from springing up.
Detained Activists Include:
- Pouria Vahidian, 27, is a relative of MEK martyr Saeed Moghimi executed in 1988 by the government and previously spent two years in prison until May 2020.
- Sina Zahiri, who was previously sentenced to five years imprisonment for supporting the MEK, of which he served two. He was arrested in Tehran and taken to Evin prison.
- Hamid Sharif is a former political prisoner and was also arrested in Tehran and taken to Evin.
- Saeid Asghari, 51, Saeid Samimi, 24, and Kasra Bani Amerian, 24, all of whom are former political prisoners initially arrested in February 2018, taken to prison where they were subjected to two months of interrogation on Ward 209 of Evin Prison, before being released on bail.
They were sentenced to five years in prison for supporting the MEK. In November 2020, intelligence agents raided their homes in Songhor county, Kermanshah province, and rearrested them, even though Bani Amerian suffers from blood cancer and would likely be denied medical treatment in prison, as many political prisoners are.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has urged human rights organizations, including the United Nations, to “take immediate action to secure the release of political prisoners to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe at the height of the coronavirus outbreak” in a recent statement.
“The Iranian resistance reiterates the need to establish an international commission of inquiry to visit Iran’s prisons and meet with prisoners, especially political prisoners,” the NCRI statement further read.
After all, these arrests are happening at a time when the conditions in Iranian prisons are especially appalling. Not only will they be subjected to a lack of sanitation, food, safe drinking water, medical care, and even beds, but they will also face the threat of the coronavirus.
It is worth noting that the government’s failure and oppressive policies against inmates lead to the rapid spread of the deadly virus through Iranian prisons. According to rights groups and activists, several prisoners have lost their lives to the Covid-19. However, this issue did not hamper the authorities from sending more people behind the bars.
Other disgraceful ways in which the government is dealing with political prisoners include the establishment of military garrisons in cities, public humiliation of youth, and the murder of youths in the streets.