Activists Maryam Karimbeigi and Golrokh Iriyaei were arrested on Monday in what appears to be a sustained targeting of female public figures in Iran since protests broke out on September 16.
The Karimbeigi family has been in the public eye for many years. Maryam’s brother Mostafa was one of many people killed during the 2009 pro-democracy Green Movement protests, which came in the wake a rigged election earlier that year.
Maryam Karimbeigi has been arrested before and was only released earlier this year after being handed down an unjust prison sentence by a so-called Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
“My daughter Maryam Karimbeigi was arrested at home by the security police at 6 o-clock today [Monday] on the order of the Tehran Security Prosecutor's Office,” Shahnaz Akmali, Maryam Karimbeigi’s mother, posted on Twitter on Monday.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) also reported Golrokh Iriyaei's arrest, and the Iranian Workers' Free Union broadcast the news on its Telegram channel.
Like Karimbeigi, Iryaei was arrested in a raid on her home, during which officers searched the property and confiscated her personal belongings. No further information was available about the charges against Iriyaei or her whereabouts.
Like others before them, the arrests led to outcry from several of the country’s prominent cultural figures, including the filmmaker Vahid Jalilvand and the writer Mostafa Mastoor. Both voiced fury at the recent violence against Iranian citizens in general, as well as the regime’s treatment of women and the impact it was having on the country.
”We are going through difficult times, bitter and dark days,” Mastoor wrote. “It may be possible to deprive a society of freedom and justice for a while, but you cannot do it forever. All women want is a normal life. The response to this cannot be violence. »
Jalivand, whose film Beyond The Wall premiered at the Venice Film Festival at the beginning of September, released a video addressing Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili, the Minister for Culture and Islamic Guidance. "You are not the Minister of Culture, Mr. Esmaeili; you are a culture hostage-taker,” he said.
Beyond The Wall tells the story of a woman in hiding and a man who seeks to help her. Jalivand added that he and his producer brother Ali were considering abandoning filmmaking because of the stifling censorship in Iran.
"You ask artists to appeal to people to calm down and be silent,” he wrote. “Not just today, but since 1999. But we artists have been asking you to be calm and talk. Talk to the people.”