Peaceful Demonstrators for Animal Rights Arrested in Tehran
Phones of Film Star and Others in Gathering Illegally Confiscated by Police
Hedieh Tehrani, a film star and animal rights activist, was arrested and charged along with 16 other people in Tehran on April 1, 2016 following a peaceful demonstration for animal rights.
Tehrani and the other detainees initially resisted handing over their mobile phones and passwords at the police station on Vozara Street where they were taken, but ultimately relented. They were not given back their phones after they were released, according to the source.
Passwords are considered private information that cannot be accessed without a judicial order, but intelligence agents and police officers often pressure detainees to hand over their private information, including access to their mobile phones, while detainees are in custody.
The demonstration occurred on Nature Day, which takes place every year in Iran on the last day of Persian New Year (March 20-April 1) and is celebrated by picnicking outdoors.
“We had wheat sprouts on dishes [according to the Persian New Year tradition] that were set on the ground and made wishes [another year-end custom] for animal rights to be respected in the new year,” a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“When we gathered around the fountain to take a picture, the plain-clothed agents attacked and beat us. They threw some of the participants in an unmarked white van and took them away,” added the source. “They were freed at 9 o’clock in the evening.”
“The animal rights activists were initially supposed to gather in front of Parliament in Baharestan Square, but when we got there we saw a lot of security forces, so we were forced to go the southern side of Laleh Park instead,” one of the participants told the Campaign.
“In Baharestan Square there were more than ten security vans and cars with plain-clothed agents, including ten female police officers,” an eyewitness revealed to the Campaign. “We were about 70 people and we began to walk towards the main fountain in Laleh Park [where people were ultimately arrested].”
Tehrani had asked her fans to join the demonstration for animal rights in Baharestan Square through her Instagram account on March 29, 2016.
No arrests were made during a similar demonstration she attended along with actresses Mitra Hajjar and Shoreh Soltani on February 22, 2016 in front of the Environmental Protection Organization in Tehran following the release of a video showing a dog being brutally abused by an Iranian hunter.