To curb activists and journalists aboard, authorities arrest family members in Iran

To curb activists and journalists aboard, authorities arrest family members in Iran
By arresting the family members of activists and journalists, the establishment attempts to silence dissidents across the world.
2 min read
03 July, 2023
Iranians in Paris join the rally with flags and pictures of victims in Iran to condemn the violation of human rights in Iran during the demonstration.

Iranian intelligence and security forces are reportedly arresting family members of dissidents living abroad in an apparent effort to silence their opposition towards the theocratic regime in Iran.

Since 18 June, the 18-year-old son and the 25-year-old brother of Fariba Balouch, a prominent activist, were arrested and kept in custody without charges.

Balouch, an outspoken rights activist, told The New Arab that her family members were not involved in politics, and she believes the move by the authorities is an effort to stop her activism.

Balouch is based in London, and her son, Amer Dadafarin, returned to Iran on 16 June after visiting his mother in London. In Tehran, Balouch's brother, Mohammad Molazehi, picked up Amer, and with a group of friends and families in two cars, they headed to the city of Iranshahr in Iran's Baluchistan.

"In a checkpoint at Iranshahr's entrance, intelligence officers stopped both cars and arrested all nine of them," she told TNA.

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According to Balouch, apart from her brother and son, all other detainees were released on the same night, but her two family members were kept first in Iranshahr, and then were transferred to the provincial capital city of Zahedan.

Balouch's parents were also summoned and were tacitly told that her activities in exile were the reason for the arrests. 

"The intelligence officers told my mom to urge me to call Iran's security service and talk to them. They want me to stop what I have been doing and to assure them that I will not continue this path," she explained to TNA.

Since the beginning of the 2022 anti-establishment movement, Balouch has been one of the leading activists in exile who actively took part in organising demonstrations and events in European countries about the situation in Iran.

She has also been one of the primary sources of rising awareness about the systemic discrimination against the Balouch minority people and the living conditions in the impoverished Sistan-o Baluchistan province.

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Meanwhile, the editor of the Faris section at the opposition website Iran Wire, Shima Shahrabi, said that his brother was arrested in Iran because of her journalistic work.

On 24 May, she wrote on Twitter that her brother was arrested, and the intelligence officers confiscated some of her father's belongings.

"It's been three weeks since my brother was arrested because of my job, which is all related to journalism and human rights," she wrote.