Iranwire – Iranian security forces “abducted” a woman in Tehran on August 16 after she confronted a member of the paramilitary Basij force over her headscarf.
The security agents reportedly followed the woman, named Azadeh Abedini, after she left her residence, apprehended her in the street and took her to an unknown location.
Abedini has not been in touch with her family for over a week and there is no information available regarding her current status, a source said.
Who is Azadeh Abedini; What Led to her “Kidnapping”?
Azadeh Abedini is a young woman residing in Tehran’s Ekbatan Town who is known for opposing mandatory hijab regulations.
According to a report by the Atlas of Iran’s Prisons website, Abedini had previously been arrested during nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.
That case had been closed in February, when the judiciary granted “amnesty” to detainees.
On August 14, an eyewitness reported that Abedini went shopping in Azadi town when she was noticed by Reza Safdari, a resident of the neighborhood and a Basij member.
Safdari recorded a video of Abedini, who was not wearing a headscarf, with his mobile phone.
When she saw that, the woman confronted Abedini and spoke out against embezzlement, corruption and the challenging economic conditions faced by the Iranian people.
While Safdari was filming her car’s license plate, she said defiantly: “Go ahead, film some more.”
In the video, which quickly gained attention on social media, Abedini says: “My choice about hijab doesn’t harm anyone.”
The individual who recorded the video that led to Abedini’s arrest was identified for the first time by the “Ekbatan Town” Instagram account, which focuses on covering protests and other events involving Ekbatan residents.
According to their report, the person who recorded the video is associated with the Basij and resides in Azadi town.
A source confirmed this to IranWire.
They Lay in Wait to Apprehend Abedini
Security forces managed to identify Abedini two days after the video was recorded, a source told IranWire.
They waited for her to leave her house and then stopped her car on the street before taking her into custody.
“Word spread quickly among Ekbatan residents and some unidentified individuals that plainclothes personnel intercepted a vehicle and abducted a woman,” the source said.
“Given that Ekbatan is a closely-knit town, information travels rapidly,” according to the source.
“Her friends have learned from human rights organizations that she was recently transferred to [Tehran’s] Evin Prison. However, she still hasn’t communicated with her family and hasn’t been granted access to legal representation,” the source added.
Previously, the Atlas of Iran’s Prisons quoted a source as saying that Abedini faced accusations of “insulting sanctity” and “promoting corruption and prostitution.”
After her arrest, she was taken to Vozara Detention Center before being transferred to Shapour Detention Center, where the authorities routinely torture inmates to extract confessions from them.
According to the Atlas of Iran’s Prisons, Abedini has been incarcerated at Evin Prison since August 20. IranWire has not been able to independently corroborate this.
Abedini “doesn’t drape a scarf around her neck, nor does she carry a head covering in her bag or don a cloak. With this outright act of defiance, she rejects the boundaries established by the Islamic Republic,” according to Shaghayagh Nowrozi, a prominent advocate for women’s rights and gender equality.
While the authorities of the Islamic Republic and official government media have yet to provide information concerning Abedini, Pegah Banihashemi, a legal expert, told IranWire that her arrest was unlawful.
“If our judicial system functioned properly, this woman would have the right to file a complaint against those who arrested her in such a manner.”
According to Banihashemi, legal scholars have repeatedly said that security personnel filming citizens participating in civil acts of dissent against the mandatory hijab law “constitutes a form of harassment and could potentially be unlawful.”
“However, the judiciary does not consider this action criminal because of these individuals’ connections,” she added.