I am Shima Shahrabi, editor-in-chief of IranWire’s Persian-language website. At the moment I am writing these words, my brother has been under arrest for more than three weeks. Because of my activities, which are entirely related to journalism and human rights, my family in Iran is under immense pressure by the security establishment of the Islamic Republic.
My brother Sajjad Shahrabi is a radio announcer and a dubber who has worked in various networks of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) for more than 16 years.
On the morning of Wednesday, May 3, six agents from the Intelligence Ministry raided my parents' home. After beating the superintendent, they entered the residential unit and searched the apartment. They seized laptops, mobile phones, banking cards and part of my father's assets (including some US dollars that my father needs because of his jewelery and goldsmith business ) from his personal safe. They assured my father the seized items had been duly recorded and that they would be returned on the afternoon. They also said that they would release his son after asking him a few questions. The same afternoon, my brother reported he had been transferred to Evin Prison.
After repeated follow-ups, my father found out that Branch 2 of Evin Courthouse is handling my brother’s case. It has been 22 days since he was arrested but the court has not announced any charge against him. They say that he is under a one-month arrest warrant and, since he objected to his temporary arrest, he must remain in detention until the judged upholds or vacates the warrant.
During this time my father and other relatives have been summoned by the Intelligence Ministry and questioned about my activities, my relations with my brother and the activities of IranWire. A relative of mine was so disturbed by the fake and horrifying stories the intelligence agents had told him that he cut off all communications with us.
My brother regularly communicated with the family until Wednesday, May 17, but for the past seven days all communication with him have been cut off.
My brother and I are less than two years apart, and, like all sisters and brothers who are close in age, we have a friendly and warm relationship, a relationship that has nothing to do with my activities in the media and as a journalist.
My brother is a law graduate, but he loved to use his voice professionally, Therefore, he took a job in radio. He has been an announcer on various Iranian radio networks, including Radio Javan, Radio Goftogoo, Radio Salamat, Radio Saba and Radio Iran. He has performed in radio plays and, in addition to all this, he has also recorded audio books. The show “Here Is Not The Night” on Radio Javan has been one of the most popular radio shows in the past decade. This program went on the air each night with one of Radio Javan’s announcers, and my brother was the host on Monday nights. The last program he hosted on Radio Javan was “Ball Sports Humor,” two days before his arrest.
I have been silent about my brother’s arrest for 22 days because I was under the impression that the security agencies would soon find out that we have no working relations with each other and they would release him. But repeated lies, unanswered questions, the prolonged detention and the cutting of communication with my brother strengthen the suspicion that the security agencies are in the process of framing him up. I beseech all professional associations related to journalism and all human rights organizations to be our voice and tell the world about the harassment of media activists inside and outside of Iran by the Islamic Republic’s security agencies.
I'm so sorry about what happened. I hope your brother is released soon