CHRI – Ten members of a persecuted Sufi order in Iran were injured and three others arrested in the city of Kowar, Fars Province after police attacked their rally in support of detained fellow devotees on January 14, 2018.
Kasra Nouri, a reporter for Majzooban Noor, the official website of the Gonabadi Dervishes, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on January 17 that the police violently dispersed the peaceful gathering in front of the Governor’s Office.
“The police attacked with batons, tasers and tear gas. Among the 10 who were injured, there was even a pregnant woman named Rahele Merrikh,” said Nouri. “We have no information about the three who were arrested.
We don’t know where they were taken or what they have been charged with,” he added.
Zabihollah Gardpour, Abdollah Rezaian and Mohsen Azadifar were arrested on January 14.
The injured include Rahele Merrikh, Nourollah Golshan, Nasrollah Golshan, Kheirollah Karami, Gholam Azadi, Ahmad Dehghan, Amin Nodoumi, Iman Nodoumi, Sajjad Pourfarjam and Mehdi Nouri.
Nouri, who was himself detained for 10 days on December 30, 2017, while visiting a fellow dervish in a hospital in Tehran, estimated that in the past three weeks, 18 dervishes were arrested in various Iranian cities. Twelve of them were in detention on unknown charges when Nouri spoke to CHRI.
The Islamic Republic views alternative belief systems, especially those seeking converts, as a threat to the prevailing Muslim Shia ruling political establishment and has imprisoned GonabadiDervishes as part of an ongoing persecution campaign.
“The dervishes in Kowar and in all of Iran are demanding an end to being seen as a security threat. Why should Gonabadi lawyers, students, teachers or businessmen lose their jobs, go to prison and be disrespected?” said Nouri. “Freedom of religion and thought are accepted public rights.”
Citizens are allowed to attend peaceful gatherings according to Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution.
“Why do the authorities confront every peaceful gathering by Gonabadi Dervishes when the Constitution has given them that right?” asked Nouri. “These violent attacks and use of tear gas are inhumane.”