April 15, 2021
Elementary school teacher Batoul Amini Dehyadegari was arrested at her home in Mashhad on the morning of April 5, 2021.
Her family have not yet heard from her and her whereabouts is unknown. But her son, Foad Sojoudi Farimani, is clear about one thing: “My mother has been arrested for protesting online against the 25-year Iran-China agreement.”
Batoul, a widower, was arrested last Monday after complaining on social media about the secretive Iran-China cooperation agreement that was signed on March 27 this year.
Thousands of Iranians have voiced outrage at the deal, the contents of which has still not been shared with them after five years in the making. Several other people are understood to have been arrested in Mashhad after attending in-person protests.
The Second Political Arrest in the Family
Foad Sojoudi Farimani himself is a human rights activist who now lives outside of Iran. In 2011, while pursuing a PhD in medical engineering at Amirkabir University, he was arrested, tried in Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, and sentenced to eight years in prison.
The charges against Foad included “sacrilege”, “acting against national security” and “insulting the supreme leader”. He was also sentenced to 100 lashes, a 100,000-toman fine for “insulting the Guardian Council” and a ban on continuing his education. He left the country as a result.
At the time, he told IranWire, “I was held in the IRGC’s detention center [on Ward 2A of Evin Prison] for about four months. I spent more than half of this time in solitary confinement and absolute isolation.
“Throughout this period, my mother did not give any interviews, hoping that the government would have mercy on me. But in the end, the family’s silence gave a blank check to the interrogator and the torturer.”
As soon as he learned of his mother’s arrest, he took to Twitter to inform others. But, he said, this has led to other family members cutting ties with him.
“Because of the interviews I’ve given, I’ve altogether lost contact with my family and siblings. I have said since day one that I will not allow my mother to remain in custody in a news blackout, and I have no regrets about revealing this.”
He added that he would not give in to threats from the Islamic Republic about speaking out: “Every time the Islamic Republic takes someone captive, the first thing they say to their family is that if they reveal it to the media, it will get worse for the prisoner.”
Many War Veterans’ Families do Not Support the Regime
On the day of the arrest, Foad told IranWire, “officers searched the house and confiscated her electronic devices, including cellphones and tablets, and took her in handcuffs to an unknown location.
“The case investigator responded to her children’s requests for information on how to arrange an attorney with insults, inappropriate behavior, and threats to cut off all access [to her].”
Batoul Amini Dehyadegari is originally from the village of Dehyadegari in Sirjan, Kerman province. Her father’s family had a history of political activism in the city of Torbat-e Jam, Razavi Khorasan.
Her son wrote on Twitter: “My mother saw the Islamic Revolution. She saw her father tortured, she saw war and bullets and mortars, she saw her husband martyred. She has seen the torture of her son; what more do you want to frighten this woman with?”
Speaking to IranWire, he said a number of other family members of Iran-Iraq war veterans in Kerman had recently been arrested for protesting against the Iran-China agreement.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “a large part of Iranian society – who hate the Islamic Republic and Khamenei – generalize their feeling to include the families of the martyrs [war veterans], even though many of these families also hate the government. But not everyone has the strength and courage to fight.”