CHRI – Children’s rights advocate and leftist poet Omid Aghdami has been missing since October 5, 2017, two days after he tweeted that Intelligence Ministry agents had searched his home in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, and confiscated his personal belongings, including a laptop and notebooks.
“The Intelligence Ministry contacted my mother again today,” he tweeted on October 4, the day before he went missing. “They warned that if I do not surrender like a good boy, they will find and kill me.”
“His phone and online connections with his friends have been cut off,” a confidential source close to the activist informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “We are worried that he has been arrested.”
The 26-year-old member of the Tabriz Children’s Rights Friendship Society (TCRFS) had been ordered by phone to report to the ministry in May and July 2017, but refused because he had not received a written summons, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Aghdami, a mechanical engineering graduate student from the Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University, has published several poems online that are critical of current political affairs in Iran as well as religious concepts.
In October 2016, the Fars News Agency, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published a report accusing TCRFS members of politicizing child labor issues.
“In the outskirts of Tabriz, hidden from view, there are a few bankrupt political hacks with no roots inside Iran or abroad, who are now taking advantage of deprived children and families to further their ill intentions,” said the report.
In September 2017, two poets and a philosopher were convicted by a court in Gorgan, Golestan Province, for the content of their personal social media postings.
Roozbeh Gilasian was sentenced to a year in prison and Nima Saffar to 80 days in prison. An appeals court also issued a fine of eight million tomans (approximately $2,412 USD) to Elaheh Soroushnia.
In 2015, poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi were issued prison sentences of nine and eleven years in prison respectively and 99 lashes each.