Recent wave of arrests targeting Sunni students in Iran

HRANA News Agency – At least five Sunni students have been arrested in Iran in recent weeks, all of whom were students at the Imam Shafi’i religious school in Evaz, Fars province.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), two students, Nooraga Vakili and Mohammad Nikzad, who were in school during their examination period, were arrested on Wednesday. They had previously been told to report to the Ministry of Intelligence after the completion of their exams.

Habibollah Sarbazi, a human rights activist, told the HRANA, “Following pressure on Shaykh Ansari, the director of the Imam Shafi’i religious school, these two Sunni students who were both wanted by the security forces were arrested on the day before their examinations were due to finish on Thursday. They [therefore] failed to complete their course exams.”

Three more Sunni students from the school, Hassan Dashteh, Mohammad Ranjbar and Mohammad Bigdeli, were arrested on 21 April 2014 and taken to an unknown location.

Speaking about the three arrests, a source told the human rights group Baloch Campaign, “Shaykh Ansari, the director of the Imam Shafi’i religious school, tried to contact every state agency to investigate the condition of these students, but none responded.”

“Only the head of the police in Evaz said that they were arrested in connection with a recent school trip to the province of Sistan and Baluchestan,” he said.

The latest arrests appear to be part of a growing crackdown on Sunni Muslims residing in the Shia-ruled Iran, with a sharp increase in the number of arrests reported in recent weeks.