Ali Tabarzadi, the animal rights activist arrested on Thursday, December 4, was released two days later, on Saturday, December 6. One of his relatives told the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) that Tabarzadi had been interrogated about his animal rights activities and was released without charge or being required to pay bail. He was informed, however, that the “security police delayed the release of his personal belongings for 10 to 20 days.”
Following his arrest, those close to Tabarzadi said at least 10 judiciary and intelligence agents raided his home. The arresting authorities did not provide any information about the charges against him at the time of the arrest.
His family said that Tabarzadi had organized a demonstration in support of animal rights, which was due to take place on Friday, December 5. They believed he was arrested in attempt to stop the protest. During the arrest, agents also confiscated three laptops, mobile phones and other personal items belonging to the family.
Ali Tabarzadi is the son of well-known political prisoner Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, currently held in the infamous Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj. He condemned the arrest of his son in a text message sent from prison: “...once again the savage servants of Khamenei...raided my house, terrorizing my family and looting my belongings. They captured Ali. This is the first time they have arrested Ali.”
The “74 Lashes” Campaign
“They have come to take me away,” Ali Tabarzadi posted on Facebook as security forces arrived at his house, and just before they entered his room. A Facebook page he manages,“My Protest Movement and 74 Lashes,” refers to a bill put forth in parliament that would make walking a dog illegal. If the bill is passed, violators could be sentenced to 74 lashes and be required to pay a fine from between 10 and 100 million Iranian rials (around $3,700).
“A rally was planned in Tehran to protest the merciless slaughter of dogs in Tehran and Karaj,” Aron Askari, another administrator of the Facebook page, told IranWire. “For the past few days Tabarzadi had been expecting to be arrested. On Wednesday he told us to go ahead with the rally even if he was arrested.”
“What we are saying is not to be cruel to any creature for any reason”, the “74 Lashes” page reads, calling for people to take part in last week’s rally. “Slaughter of defenseless animals using selfish and absurd excuses promotes violence that will very soon come back to haunt us. Cruelty to other creatures makes monsters out of humans. What we are saying is very simple. What we are saying is the word of God, creator of all creatures.”
The “74 Lashes” Facebook page asks dog owners in Iran to post photographs of themselves with their dogs as a protest against the anti-dog bill. The campaign received a huge response, attracting more than 9,000 “likes” and displaying dozens of photos of people of all ages with their dogs. After Tabarzadi’s arrest, Aron Askari, who lives outside Iran, took the necessary step to ensure the page did not get taken down. “Some people have written about the cruelties that they have witnessed,” says Askari. “We hope that this page will make people behave more kindly towards dogs.”