Anti-Compulsory Hijab Protester, Mother in Widely Shared Tehran Metro Video Both Arrested
Activist Yasaman Aryani was arrested in Tehran on April 10, 2019, after appearing in a widely shared video of women peacefully protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab law in a Tehran Metro train on March 8, International Women’s Day.
Her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, was detained the following day after she inquired about her daughter, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
They are both being held in the Vozara Detention Center based on a complaint by the judiciary’s Islamic Guidance branch, according to news reports.
Aryani, 23, and her mother can be seen in the video with their hair uncovered, distributing flowers to passengers on a Tehran metro train while saying they look forward to the day that Iranian women will be allowed to choose whether to wear a hijab or not.
A source with detailed knowledge of the cases informed CHRI that unidentified security forces raided the Aryani family home during the early evening of April 10, arresting her and confiscating her laptop, mobile phone and other personal belongings.
The arrest was initially confirmed by Fars news, which has ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
On April 11, US-based Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad tweeted: “Today, Iranians authorities arrested this mother. Her name is Monireh Arabshahi, her crime is to support #WhiteWednesday & handout flowers to women who wear hijab alongside her daughter #YasamanAryani. Now mother & daughter are in jail. Be their voices. They are not criminals.”
The tweet included a video message from Arabshahi saying her daughter “is neither a terrorist nor an embezzler.”
On April 8, two days before her arrest, Aryani revealed she had been suspended and cut from the cast of a play, “Actors’ Studio,” which opened at Malek Theater in Tehran on April 11 without her.
Aryani has publicly supported women’s rights in Iran and has advocated peacefully rejecting Iran’s compulsory hijab law. She has also posted numerous photos and video clips of herself walking without a hijab in the streets of Tehran.
She is currently awaiting a decision on her appeal against the one-year prison sentence she was issued by Branch 28 of the revolutionary court for taking part in mass protests against Iran’s economic problems in August 2018.
In a video message posted on YouTube on November 1, 2018, Aryani’s mother said: “To the men in power I say, enough. You have arrested enough innocent young people. Why don’t you go after those who fooled the people with their false promises and delivered nothing? Why don’t you go after those who have embezzled billions? Why don’t you go after those agents who beat our children black and blue with electric batons and clubs?”