RFL/RE – Australia and the Netherlands have confirmed the arrests of dual nationals in Iran and say the detainees have been denied consular access.
A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs on November 24 said an Iranian-Australian had been detained, though not for participating in protests over the death of a young woman while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly that are sweeping across Iran.
The Netherlands made a similar announcement late on November 23 saying one of its citizens had been detained in Iran. It gave no further details.
Both countries confirmed their officials had been denied consular access to the detainees.
Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs noted that Iran refuses to accept the right of consular access in such cases because Tehran does not recognize dual citizenship.
Many countries have urged their citizens to leave Iran because of the high risk of arbitrary detention.
The arrests come amid widespread protests in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being detained for “improperly” wearing the hijab, a mandatory head scarf.
Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking the protests without showing any evidence to back up its claim.
Earlier this week, Judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told reporters that 40 foreign nationals were among those who have been detained during the unrest, which began after Amini’s death on September 16.
Some reports by human rights organizations indicate that more than 15,000 people overall have been detained during the nationwide protests.
The activist group Iran Human Rights said on November 23 that “at least” 416 people, including 51 children and 27 women, have been killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests.
Iranian Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that some foreigners arrested during the protests had played “a major role” in the unrest. He said these people “are in the hands of the judiciary and are to be dealt with according to the law.”
Western countries have repeatedly charged that Iran is taking dual nationals and foreigners into custody on false charges for the sole purpose of using them in prisoner swaps.