(5 November 2009)  A purge of reform-minded citizens, in particular members of a leading student alumni organization, is ongoing, as Iranian authorities detained dozens of people before public demonstrations on 4 November and during protests that occurred against the government, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

“As the authorities arrest more and more socially-engaged students, alumni, and others, the numbers of detained citizens who may face unfair trials and even death sentences for exercising their internationally protected human rights are swelling,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

“It is the responsibility of members of the international community to raise these abuses in their newly-opened contacts with Iranian counterparts; otherwise they will be selling out the Iranian people while chasing an elusive diplomatic victory,” he added.

While precise numbers are not available, the Campaign has learned that more than 50 members of the families of detained persons gathered today in front of Vozara Detention Center in Tehran, hoping to prevent the transport of their relatives to Evin prison, where a number of the recent detainees have already reportedly been sent. Similar gatherings of relatives have been reported in other cities.

Twenty Shiraz University students and ten in Mashad were among those arrested on 4 November. The detainees also include an Iranian employee of the Agence France Press (AFP), Farhad Pouladi.

As previously reported by the Campaign, Iranian authorities attempted a “preemptive strike” against protesters by arresting a number of citizens on 3 November, including Hasan Asadi Zaidabadi, a human rights leader in the student alumni group ADVAR, whose wife has been denied any information by Judiciary officials. Also detained prior to the November 4 demonstrations was Kouhzad Esmaeli, in charge of the Gilan province ADVAR branch.

On 3 November, intelligence forces arrested Mohammad Sadeghi, a member of the Central Council of ADVAR. Hojat Sharifi, a former member of the Central Council of ADVAR, and his wife, Nafiseh Zarekohan, a journalist, were also arrested in their home in Tehran on 4 November.

To prevent students from attending the 4 November demonstration, security forces attacked a number of student residences, detaining a number of students including Ali Parviz and Sohail Mohammadi. Students at Khaje Nasir University in Tehran were arrested on 4 November in their homes and their personal items were seized; their current situation is unknown. Students had earlier protested against an appearance by Safar Harandi, a former Minister of Islamic Culture at Khaje Nasir University. According to information received by the Campaign, Mohammad Hashemi, a former secretary of the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat students union, was arrested on 4 November at his home and released after several hours of interrogation.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls upon Iran to end its program of arbitrary arrests and to release all citizens who have been detained solely for their opinions and peaceful activism in accordance with its treaty obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).