February 10, 2020
After nearly two years behind bars, three Sufi women were released from Iran’s notorious Evin prison on Saturday, February 8.
The three women belong to the Gonabadi dervish’s sect, whose leader was persecuted, and his followers protested his house arrest in 2018.
The Islamic Republic intelligence agents and security forces detained more than seventy female dervishes on February 20, 2018, when they had gathered outside the house of dervishes’ spiritual leader to prevent his house arrest.
Eleven of the detainees were jailed in the notorious Qarchak prison, near the capital city, Tehran.
Later, in 2019, three female dervishes, Sima Entesari, Sepideh Moradi, and Shokufeh Yadollahi, were transferred to Evin prison.
Security forces heavy-handedly suppressed dervishes’ protests and tightened their presence around the residence of Sufis’ spiritual leader, ninety-year-old, Nour Ali Tabandeh.
The Gonabadi Sufi order is the most significant dervish order in Iran. They consider themselves Muslims but the Shiite clerical regime in Iran looks at the sect with suspicion.
The spiritual leader or “Qotb” (Pivot) of the order, Tabandeh, surrounded by intelligence agents, died on December 24, 2019, in Tehran.
Hundreds of his followers are still behind bars, serving long jail terms.
Meanwhile, two sons of Ms. Shokoufeh Yadollahi, both followers of the same order, Kasra and Amir Nouri, are still in prison.
Detained dervishes are all charged with “action against national security”, “disrupting order,” and “challenging police orders.”
Several human and civil rights activists have repeatedly raised their concern over the health and wellness of the detained Sufis.
In a tweet on December 20, 2019, Mahmoud Sadeqi a lawmaker representing Tehran insisted that the detained “dervishes’ lives were in danger” and urged the Islamic Republic’s head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), to “seriously and immediately” look into the case.
Meanwhile, the wife of one of the detained dervishes told Radio Farda previously that at least four dervishes are in critical condition.