According to human rights activists, Iranian authorities have begun a new wave of arrests in Khuzestan province, southwestern Iran. In their latest oppressive operation, the State Security Forces (SSF) targeted cultural activists in the city of Ahvaz. Locals reported the SSF has detained at least five activists and transferred them to unknown places.
In this respect, on December 11, the human rights association No to Prison – No to Execution stated, “A day after the detention of Fatemeh Tamimi, a cultural activist from Ahvaz, in Jarahi district, authorities detained at least four others. Maryam Ameri, Tamimi’s partner, is among arrestees.”
“Since ten days ago, security institutions time and again summoned and interrogated Ameri. However, on December 10, they finally detained her,” the report added.
It is said that security forces had raided Ameri’s home and confiscated her laptop, smartphone, and a few memory cards, in addition to detaining and transferring her to an unidentified place. Her family’s efforts for achieving information about her fate stayed fruitless and her whereabouts and condition remained secret.
Ameri and Tamimi were collecting traditional stories, lullabies, and songs in the Arabic language from local villages. They were publishing these pieces on Tamimi’s Instagram page—followed by 25,000 people—to register them as part of the region’s history. According to sources familiar with their efforts, they had prepared a 20-part documentary and were on the verge of publishing it. Maryam Ameri had previously managed the Gargi’an cultural ceremony, which is a celebration for children.
Simultaneously, authorities detained a civil rights activist Azhar Albo-Ghabish and his two brothers Abbas and Reza in Shadegan city. All of them were under 20 years old. Locals said that Albo-Ghabish’s activities were limited to aiding needy people across the city.
Human rights activists condemned this arrest, saying, “all their activities were carried out peacefully and according to Iran’s constitution.” They believe that the government attempts to divert civil rights activities to pave the path for more restrictions on civil rights and cultural actions. Activists demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees.
According to reports, the SSF also arrested a female teacher Zeinab Savari alongside her brother and little sister in Hoveizeh city on December 11. According to eyewitnesses, the government seemingly intends to continue these arbitrary and illegal arrests in the upcoming days.
The detention of cultural and civil activists intensified following the execution of Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam on December 12, which prompted international condemnation against human rights violations in Iran. However, according to opposition activists, Iranian authorities see suppression as the sole instrument to counter public hatred and silence citizens’ grievances and fundamental demands.