HRW – On June 14, Iranian Ministry of Intelligence agents arrested Maryam Karimbeigi, a 34-year-old sociology student and civil rights activist, according to tweets by her mother, Shahnaz Akmali. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, Maryam is being held in Ward 209 at Evin Prison. Ward 209 is operated by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and Human Rights Watch has documented the use of torture there.
On June 15, Shahnaz posted on Twitter that the prosecutor’s office at Evin prison had refused to release Maryam on bail despite having promised to do so. Shahnaz also said on Twitter that the prosecutor’s office added a new charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” against Maryam in addition to the “acting against national security” charge that she previously faced, adding that after being detained, Maryam started a hunger strike.
Maryam is the sister of Mostafa Karimbeigi, a 26-year-old protestor who died after he was shot in the head at a protest in Tehran in 2009. The protest was linked to the disputed 2009 presidential elections. Shahnaz, who has also been active in demanding justice for her son’s killing, was arrested herself in 2017 and sentenced to one year in prison.
The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence service filed a complaint against Maryam a few months ago, and security agents interrogated her several times during the past month, a person familiar with the case told Human Rights Watch. In February 2022, security agents also reportedly raided Maryam and Shahnaz’s home and took their personal items, including pictures of Mostafa, their phones, and laptops. The source told Human Rights Watch that after the raid, Maryam was interrogated several times before being charged and detained.
The Iranian government has a long history of prosecuting families of victims and activists. The Karimbeigi family has spoken out to demand justice for the killing of their son, but instead of having their calls for accountability met, they face prosecution, detention, and harassment.