In recent months, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has arrested dozens of environmental experts and activists on false charges of spying for the West, while the corrupt judiciary has been prosecuting the cases.
The reality is that the Iranian Regime sees these experts as a threat to their rule because they will advise things like ending environmentally destructive construction projects that are exacerbating water shortages, stopping the diversion of water to ethnically Persian areas of Iran, not building on protected lands, and putting money into treating environmental issues rather terroristic up the military. Some of these environmental issues have also been triggering anti-regime protests, which have meant that activists can easily mobilise the masses and pose a threat to the future of the Regime itself.
This is clearly the real reason that the mullahs are targeting these activists. Even Isa Kalantari, head of Iran’s Department of Environment, confirmed last week that a government investigation panel had found no evidence of wrongdoing by the environmental detainees and called for their immediate release.
However, the judiciary has refused to release the detainees and has dismissed the findings of the government committee. They’ve even summoned the head of the intelligence community, Mahmoud Alavi, to explain how Kaveh Madani, deputy head of Department of Environment, left Iran without facing these fake charges. He was accused of spying for the West, but the real problem is that he criticized Iran’s water management policies.
The real issue is that environmental activists and scientists should not be punished for doing their jobs. Some have expressed surprise that the rulers of Iran have largely failed to act appropriately, but expecting fair treatment of them by the Iranian Regime is a fallacy. After all, the Regime’s only goal is to stay in control and the activists are a threat to that.
One of the saddest stories about these false imprisonments is that of Kavous Seyed-Emami, a Canadian dual national who directed the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation. He was one of several detainees who died under mysterious circumstances in the first few weeks of 2018.
Other imprisoned environmental experts include Tahir Ghadeeryan, a 2008 UNESCO award winner, and Nilofer Bayani, an expert who worked for the United Nations.