Iran intensifies protest crackdown with arrests of activists’ relatives

Nobel laureate’s sister held as UK ambassador is called to foreign ministry over alleged western support for protesters

by Robert Tait
Guardian [UK]
Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Authorities in Iran intensified their drive to snuff out the opposition movement overnight by arresting the relatives of prominent activists, including the sister of the Nobel laureate and human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi.

The arrests came as the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran, Simon Gass, to complain that western countries, including Britain, had fomented renewed protests on Sunday that left at least eight people dead.

Ebadi – winner of the 2003 Nobel peace prize – said her sister, Dr Noushin Ebadi, a lecturer in medicine at Tehran Azad university, was arrested at her home last night by four intelligence agents. She was taken to an unknown location. Shirin Ebadi, who is currently in London, said the arrest was intended to pressure her into giving up her human rights work.

“During the past two months, [my sister] has been summoned by the intelligence ministry several times and ordered to persuade me to stop my human rights activities,” Ebadi said in a statement posted on the reformist website Rah-e Sabz. “She was also ordered to vacate her home, which adjoins my apartment. She was threatened that if she failed to comply with these two demands, she would be arrested.”

The arrest coincided with the detentions of relatives of other prominent figures, including Shapour Kazemi, brother-in-law of the reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Leila Tavassoli, niece of the former foreign minister Ebrahim Yazdi, who has also been detained. It was the second time Kazemi, the brother of Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, has been arrested since June’s disputed presidential election.

The latest detention came after Mousavi’s nephew, Ali Mousavi Khamane, was killed on Sunday in what his family allege was an assassination by security forces. At least 20 prominent figures, including journalists, have been arrested since Sunday’s clashes, which took place on the Shia holy day of Ashura.

The article continues at the Guardian.

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