Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Abdollah Bozorgzadeh, a civil rights activist who was arrested June 17, 2018 for joining a peaceful gathering in support of the Iranshahr Girls, has been released on a bail of 1,200,000,000 Rials (approximately $12,000 USD).
Upon his arrest, Bozorgzadeh was transferred to a Zahedan detention center run by the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Iranshahr Girls are a group of 41 girls who were reportedly raped in the southeastern city of Iranshahr. Their case attracted public attention when Sunni Imam Molavi Tayeb Molazehi spoke about them during a sermon at the end of Ramadan, stating the girls had been raped by a group of men “of wealth and power.” The sermon ignited street rallies and social media campaigns against authorities’ failure to prosecute the men accused of the rape.
In July of this year, the IRGC reported the arrest of a number of foreign media heads, releasing video-recorded confessions from Abdollah Bozorgzadeh and six other protester-arrestees.
More than 100 well-known civil and human rights activists have spoken out against the Iranian security apparatus, issued a statement calling for Bozorgzadeh’s immediate release, and demanded an investigation to identify and punish those responsible for the rape. Amnesty International called for Bozorgzadeh’s release in a statement released July 4th.
* Iranshahr is located in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, southeastern Iran. Most of the residents of this city are members of the Sunni religious minority.
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The family of Abdollah Bozorgzadeh has been in the dark about his whereabouts for twenty days. The activist was arrested by plainclothes forces on June 17th after joining a peaceful gathering in support of the Iranshahr Girls.
The Iranshahr Girls are a group of 41 girls who have reputedly been raped in the southeastern city of Iranshahr. Their case attracted publicity after Sunni Imam Molavi Tayeb Molazehi spoke about them in his sermon at the end of Ramadan, in which he stated the girls had been raped by a group of men “of wealth and power”.
According to the Baluchi Activist Campaign, Bozorgzadeh spoke once with his family on the phone from a detention center run by the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was then transferred to the quarantine section of Zahedan Prison and has not been heard from since.
A day after his arrest, Bozorgzadeh was seen in the corridors of Iranshahr’s Revolutionary Court where he said he had been tortured.
In the days that followed, the head of the Judiciary of Sistan & Baluchestan province was asked in a news interview about the reasons for the arrest. He responded that the activist had been “disrupting order”, adding that Bozorgzadeh’s brother was “among the enemies of the regime”.
A short while after, IRGC’s intelligence department published footage that showed Bozorgzadeh among a group of six male and female teenagers.
Social media has been buzzing in support of Bozorgadeh and his fellow protesters who were arrested for gathering to advocate for the Iranshahr Girls. Many Friday-prayer imams have also asked for his release.
After the names of the Iranshahr girls’ rapists were published on social media, it became evident that they had the support of the IRGC and security apparatuses.
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – According to the Baluch Activists Campaign, though Sunni cleric Molavi Nasser Rigi was arrested by Revolutionary Guard agents more than three weeks ago, his whereabouts remain unknown.
Rigi is a civil rights activist and member of a charity called “School Ambassadors.” He was active in several social initiatives, including the collection signatures for a petition in support of the Iranshahr girls.
He was arrested July 15th in response to allegedly fake social media accounts created in his name, which indicate he is a member of “SAHAB” (Baluchistan Protest Coordinator organization) and responsible for torching the Pasteur Pharmacy in Iranshahr (in Sistan and Baluchestan province). He denied the accusations, demanding the arrest of those responsible for disseminating the misinformation.
Iranshahr residents previously held mass protests in response to the statements of Sunni Imam Molavi Tayeb, who announced after leading a Friday prayer that 41 girls from Iranshahr had been abducted and raped. Security forces detained many of the protesters, including Abdullah Bozorgzadeh.