Location of Baluchi Activist Arrested at Mass Rape Protest Concealed From His Family
The location of detained Baluchi ethnic rights activist Abdollah Bozorgzadeh remains unknown three weeks after he was detained in the Iranian city of Iranshahr in Sistan and Baluchistan Province.
Bozorgzadeh was taken into custody on June 17, 2018, during a rally to protest the alleged rape of dozens of women, a source close to the family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 9, 2018.
“Twenty days after he was arrested, and after his father stood in protest outside the headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] in Iranshahr, Abdollah called his mother at 1 a.m. last night [July 8] and with a trembling voice said that he was feeling well but did not say who detained him or where he is being held,” said the source who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“He insisted that the family should not talk to the media and hung up,” added the source. “His call and his trembling voice made the family even more worried.”
Iranian authorities often pressure and threaten the family members of detainees held in politically sensitive cases to not speak publicly about their experiences.
Continued the source: “For two days, Abdollah’s father, Gholam Ghader Bozorgzadeh, stood in front of the IRGC’s headquarters [in Iranshahr] where it was rumored his son was being held. But it was to no use. He also made inquiries at the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary but no one would answer his questions.”
Prior to his arrest, Bozorgzadeh and several other activists had gathered to protest the mass rape of women in the city. In an audio file posted on social media on June 18, Bozorgzadeh is heard arguing about why he was being arrested.
At his sermon on June 15, 2018, the city’s Baluchi Sunni Friday prayer leader Mohammad Tayyeb Mollazehi claimed that a suspect in custody had confessed that he and several other men had raped 41 women.
But Iranian officials have either denied that the rape happened or claimed elements of the case have been falsified.
On June 17, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli ordered an investigation into the case while the province’s chief prosecutor, Ali Movaheddi-Rad, confirmed the arrest of one suspect, adding that the case had “only three plaintiffs.”
On June 18, Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri claimed that there had been no rape and threatened to prosecute those who speak about it publicly.
“The person who fabricated this baseless story and announced it in a public gathering must prove his claim, otherwise he will be pursued for disturbing public opinion,” Montazeri said in a statement published by his public relations office.
In the business of selling herbal medicines in Iranshahr, the detainee Abdollah Bozorgzadeh is married and has one child.