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The Deaths of the Sahabis: Religious Rites Disrupted, Mourners Arrested

02 Jun 2011 22:00Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

10 p.m., 12 Khordad/June 2 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Security forces prevented the observance of the traditional Islamic mourning and commemoration for Ezatollah Sahabi on the third day after his death. They closed the mosque in which the ceremony was to be held. People in the large crowd shouted "Allah-o Akbar" (God is great) as the security forces beat them with batons. Reports indicate that Sahabi's daughter-in-law, journalist Saeed Madani; Amin Ahmadian, husband of human rights activist Bahareh Hedayat; and several university students were arrested. Ali Akbar Moein-far, a nationalist-religious political figure, said that Ezatollah Sahabi's sister was also detained.

Reports indicate that the families of those who were arrested during the funeral procession of Ezatollah Sahabi have gathered at the gate of Tehran's Evin Prison. Several people who took part in the funeral have simply disappeared. Several people were also reportedly arrested during the burial of Haleh Sahabi, which took place late Wednesday night.

A physician who claims to have observed Haleh Sahabi at the hospital where she was brought after being struck by a security agent during her father's funeral procession said that she probably died due to a rupture in her spleen. He said that Sahabi was pale when she arrived at the hospital, which is not how people who have had a heart attack look. In addition, he said that her heart and lungs were still functioning and that she had bruises on the left side of her chest.

A group of university students announced that they will hold the traditional Islamic mourning on the seventh day after Haleh Sahabi's death. According to the group's statement, "Since the government did not allow the commemoration and public mourning for Mir Esmail Mousavi [Mir Hossein Mousavi's father] and Ezatollah Sahabi, we will hold the mourning in front of the U.N. offices in Tehran so that the world can hear our voices."

The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, the temporary leadership council while Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are under house arrest, demanded an investigative committee be formed to look into the cause of Haleh Sahabi's death. In a message of condolence to the nation, the council also praised Sahabi as a "civil activist, Qur'an researcher, distinguished feminist activist, member of the central committee of the Nationalist-Religious Coalition, member of the Council of Mothers for Peace, and a supporter of the families that have suffered in the aftermath of the presidential election of 2009." It went on to describe her as "a pious lady, and undoubtedly one of the most distinguished women against violence, and advocate of peaceful means, and patriot.... Sahabi is the latest martyr of the Green Movement."

All the leading opposition groups within Iran and in the diaspora have condemned the death of Haleh Sahabi. For example, the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin, a leading reformist group that has been outlawed by the government, issued a strong statement declaring, "This is a dictatorship that with religious clothes does not respect one of the most religious rites: burial of a Muslim. The ruling dictatorship is so shaky and terrified that it cannot even tolerate the funeral, burial, and [special] prayer for a dead person."

The Coordination Council of Kurdish Reformists has sent a message of condolence to the Sahabi family. The message says in part, "We hope that this sad event helps everyone, particularly those who hold power, to recognize that the only way for achieving high goals and ideals for the nation is mixing politics with morality and dignity." Four other reformist groups, including the Reformists of East Azerbaijan Province and the Bushehr branch of the Organization of University Graduates, have also issued statements of condolence, calling the death of Haleh Sahabi a crime.

As reported previously by Tehran Bureau, a group of political prisoners incarcerated in Rajaei Shahr Prison have been on a hunger strike that began May 22 and which they have vowed to continue it until June 12, the second anniversary of the presidential election of 2009. They are Isa Saharkhiz, Keyvan Samimi, Jafar Aghdami, Rasoul Bodaghi, Majid Tavakoli, Behrooz Javid Tehrani, Reza Rafiei, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Ali Ajami, and Mehdi Mahmoudian. Reports indicate that their health has been deteriorating. Many prominent opposition figures, including former President Mohammad Khatami and Grand Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani have called on them to end their strike. A group of political activists outside Iran has just issued a statement similarly asking the group to end its strike.

Labor leader Mansour Osanloo, head of the syndicate of Tehran bus service workers, who has been imprisoned since 2007, was furloughed for two weeks after posting bail. Osanloo had joined the hunger strike of the political prisoners in Rajaei Shahr prison, but has been in poor health. In 2007, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Many international labor organizations have called on the government to release Osanloo.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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