Protests against the unexpected increase in gasoline prices in Behbahan, Khuzestan, November 15, 2019. (Supplied)

January 02, 2021

According to human rights activists, Iranian authorities have launched a new wave of arrests in Khuzestan province, southwestern Iran. The human rights association No to Prison – No to Execution reported that at dawn on December 20, intelligence agents affiliated to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) detained Mr. Hossein Zadeh Shaye (Shenavari).

Mr. Shaye is 42 years old and from the Taleghani district in Bandar Mahshahr county. He is a cameraman and in addition to cultural activities, he was filming concerts. Mr. Shaye was also collaborating with another cultural activist Fatemeh Tamimi, who had been arrested on December 9.

Tamimi along with her partner Maryam Ameri—who was also arrested on December 10—were collecting traditional stories, lullabies, and songs in the Arabic language from local villagers. Shaye had also aided them to produce and publish these pieces on Tamimi’s Instagram page—followed by 25,000 people—to register them as part of the region’s history.

Intelligence agents brutally raided the homes of these activists and seized their personal belongings such as laptops, smartphones, and memory cards, in addition to detaining them. To instill a sense of fear, they conducted the raid with several vehicles at Mr. Shaye’s home before dawn.

“At 4:00 am on December 20, forces of the intelligence department sieged Hossein Zadeh Shaye’s home with several vehicles. They instilled a sense of fear among this family and impounded all filming equipment, including his camera, mobile, and computer. Then, intelligence agents transferred Hossein Zadeh Shaye to Ahvaz Intelligence Department,” a source familiar with the issue said.

Mr. Shaye suffers from intestinal pain, chronic asthma, and kidney stone infection. In this context, his family is deeply concerned about his health and life regarding inhuman torture and ill-treatment usually practiced through interrogations.

The Shaye family urged international and human rights organizations to pressure the Islamic Republic to release this cultural activist immediately and unconditionally. “He is one of the advocates for Iranian Arabs in Ahvaz, who reported on these people’s suffering and misery,” said the family.

Furthermore, on December 30, the judiciary convicted Lamia (Sahba) Hemadi, 23, to seven years in prison for ‘Baghi,’ [riot] and ‘acting against national security.’ She was also a cultural activist, and the autocrats could not tolerate her activities.

In the past month, the State Security Forces (SSF) and MOIS agents have arrested a significant number of civil rights and cultural activists. They detained Azhar, Abbas, and Reza Albo-Ghabish—all of them under 20 years old—in early December, Fatemeh Tamimi on December 9, Maryam Ameri on December 10, and Zeinab Savari along with her little brother and sister on December 11.

Observers say that the Iranian government continues to intimidate society with such oppressive actions. They reasoned that given public disappointment about the government’s miserable performance in different sectors, including economic issues, civil rights, combating the novel coronavirus, and procuring the Covid-19 vaccine, the ayatollahs have intensified oppressive measures to quell any protest at the beginning.

Iran Focus

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.