U.S. State Department representative Heather Nauert tweeted on Tuesday that the US is concerned about reports that lawyer Zeynab Taheri was detained for “disturbing” Iran’s public opinion. Nauert called on the Iranian Regime for her immediate release and an end to the persecution of the Dervishes.
Taheri was charged with disseminating lies, anti-government propaganda and disturbing public opinion, according to the Majzooban Noor news site, but many human rights activists believe that she was arrested because of the release of an audio recording, in which a man assumed to be the recently executed Mohammad Salas, denies the charges against him, last month.
But Taheri denied being the one to release the tape, which was released through a Twitter account under her name that kept tweeting even after her arrest.
Taheri had defended Salas for killing three police officers with a bus during an anti-government protest by Dervishes in Tehran in February. Salas, 51, had confessed to the crime in March, but human rights defenders said that he had been tortured into confessing.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran’s “brutal and unjust execution” of Salas on Monday, urging other countries to do the same, while European Union foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic raised doubts about Iran’s “respect for fundamental rights and due process”.
Abuse of female Dervish detainees
In related news, the mother of a jailed Dervish woman has learnt that her daughter and other female Dervish detainees have been severely beaten by Iranian security agents.
Sedigheh Khalili had heard of the beatings when she visited Qarchak prison on the outskirts of Tehran, where her daughter, Sepideh Moradi, and nine other Dervish women are being held.
Khalili and relatives of the other detainees attempted to see their loved ones, but were prevented by the prison authorities.
Khalili said: “While we were waiting for our request to be granted, a few prison guards who were passing by said, ‘You didn’t hear this from us, but yesterday there was a mutiny here, and some of the dervish women were beaten up with batons, shocked with tasers and had their hair pulled.’”
This reportedly happened after the women demanded their phone cards and refused to return to their cells in protest.
A prison warden denied the allegations and said that the women had been checked over by a doctor, but refused to let the group see their family members. When Khalili questioned this, the warden told her to “go to hell”.
Khalili said: “I’m in such despair that I don’t know whether my daughter is alive. We said to the prison authorities, please grant us one minute on the phone so that we can hear our kids saying they are OK.”
The clashes between the Regime and the Dervishes on February 19-20, left five dead and over 300 arrested.
The Dervishes had been demanding the release of their detained members, the end to surveillance of their elderly leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh, and an end to the Regime’s harassment of them.
But the Regime will not end its suppression of the Dervishes or any Iranian people and we should not wait for the Regime to reform. Instead, the only way to obtain a free and democratic Iran that protects the human rights of all citizens is to fight for regime change.
Regime change will be the main topic at the Free Iran gathering in Paris on June 30.