The number of arrests being made in some key Iranian cities appears to have soared this weekend. IranWire’s sources indicate that as expected security forces are acting on a directive from the judiciary allowing them so-called “preventative detentions”.
Some of the most notable mass arrests have taken place in Tabriz, Urmia, Zanjan and Ardabil, but also in smaller cities like Hidaj and Abhar in Zanjan province, Meshginshahr in Ardebil, Malekan and Marand in East Azerbaijan province, and Sardasht, Oshnavieh, Mahabad, Naqadeh, and Takab in West Azerbaijan.
According to reports received by Iranwire, on Thursday security agents systematically raided homes in Hidaj, a small town of 15,000 people, and arrested a number of people. Two people, a man named Mehdi Dadgar and his wife, were taken away the day before and are now in prison in Abhar.
In that city, too, security forces had arrested a large number of citizens on Wednesday. A source in Abhar Prison told IranWire: “There are more than 50 detainees from this city. They’re still locked up now.”
On Thursday a group of citizens in Malekan, Mobina Rahmani, Rohami Rahmani, Mehri Golafshan, Amir Hossein Khalilzadeh, Ali Zahmatkesh, Meysam Zahmatkesh and Mehdi Pourkarim, were arrested at once.
Protests have been running every night since last Tuesday in Tabriz. Dozens of people have been arrested, including the civil rights activist Mehdi Hamidi, graphics student Ahmadreza Afshar and resident Atila Sadeghi.
In Ardabil, a man named Mohsen Mohsenzadeh was arrested on Wednesday September 21, 2022, in Jiral Park. Four others, Saeed Sadeghifar, Asgar Akbarzadeh, Meysam Jolani and Abbas Lesani were detained at their workplaces and homes on the Thursday. Lesani is being denied the right to make phone calls from Ardebil prison.
Security forces have also continued to target journalists and civil society campaigners. One of those arrested over the last few days was Milad Shomali, an advocate for student rights and former secretary of the Islamic Culture and Civilization Association at Babol Noshirvani University of Technology in Mazandaran Province.
According to the United Students' Association’s Telegram channel, Ministry of Information agents arrived at Shomali’s father’s house on the morning of September 24 to arrest him.
Discovering that Shomali was not there, they forced his father to accompany them to Shomali’s place of work. When they discovered he was not there either, they phoned Shomali and said he was wanted for questioning, threatening to arrest his father if he did not cooperate. Shomali presented himself to Mazandaran province’s Intelligence Department, and a few hours later, reported that he had been arrested.
On September 25, the editor and translator Somayeh Nowrouzi reported that her husband, Farshid Gorbanpour, a literary journalist and manager of the online bookstore Soren Books, had also been arrested.
Nowrouzi said security forces had arrived at her house at 3:30am, broke down the door and used pepper spray on her husband before beating him up, detaining him and taking him to an unknown location.
Nowrouzi told the media she did know which agency was responsible, and added that their young child had witnessed the assault and the arrest. Agents also confiscated some of the couple’s personal belongings, including mobile phones and laptops.
Prior to this, on September 21, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested civil society activist Payam Khodabandelou at his home in Hamadan city and confiscated his personal and electronic devices. The agents did not present search or arrest warrants.
The arrests of Shomali, Khodabandelou and Ghorbanpour follow the detention of other and journalists in Iran, most of whom had been reporting on the unfolding events. Among them are Vida Rabbani, Elanz Mohammadi, Nilofar Hamidi, Narges Hosseini, Sajad Ramzanzadeh and Sajad Delbari.
Some people detained earlier have faced trouble in prison. In Rasht, it has been reported that an archeology student arrested during the protests was initially denied access to medical treatment after he sustained a knife attack in Lakan Prison in Sabze Meydan. Alireza Ghamgosar, who is studying at Kashan University, told his family in a phone call on Sunday that he is now belatedly being treated in a clinic.