2 Iranian Actresses Are Arrested on Protest Charges
The security forces in Iran have arrested two prominent actresses, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, for removing their head scarves and participating in the antigovernment protests that have swept the country for the past two months, according to state-run news media.
The government charged the actresses with “collusion with the intention of acting against the state security” and “propaganda against the state,” IRNA, Iran’s state-run news agency, said on Sunday.
The arrests came after both women were seen in public without wearing a head scarf, or hijab — defying the stringent dress code that the Iranian government enforces for women.
Anger over those rules and their enforcement has fueled the recent protests in Iran, which were kindled by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurdish woman, in the custody of the morality police in September after she was accused of violating the law on head scarves.
Ms. Ghaziani and Ms. Riahi are among a group of high-profile Iranians, including artists, musicians, athletes and activists, who have publicly supported the movement since mid-September.
In a statement posted to her personal Instagram account on Saturday, Ms. Ghaziani, 52, denounced the government for their crackdown on the young people who have joined the demonstrations.
“How many children, teenagers and young people have you killed — is it not enough with the bloodshed?” she said in her post. “I hate you, and your historical reputation.”
“This may be my last post,” she added.
Ms. Ghaziani was arrested the next day, hours after uploading another video, from the streets of Tehran, in which she is seen staring defiantly into the camera with no head covering before turning her back and tying a ponytail in her hair.
“From this moment on, whatever happens to me, know that I will be with the people of Iran until my last breath,” she wrote in the post, which garnered an outpouring of support and concern over her fate as it coursed through social media.
Ms. Ghaziani was taken to the prosecutor’s office hours later by security personnel, who said that the charges against her included “communication with opposition and counterrevolutionary media,” according to IRNA.
Ms. Riahi, 60, who was also arrested on Sunday, removed her hijab publicly in mid-September for an interview with the TV channel Iran International in which she said she had always opposed the law and was ready “to show the truth.”
Security forces arrested her at her villa in Qazvin, northwest of Tehran, according to the semiofficial news agency Tasmin.
The arrests were the latest in a wider attempt by the government to quash the uprising, which has continued for two months in dozens of cities across Iran and has been fueled largely by the thousands of women on the streets week after week. Some 15,000 Iranians have been arrested and several hundred have been killed, according to rights groups.
In an effort to undercut the sustained momentum of the largely leaderless movement, the government has targeted the musicians, artists and journalists who have supported the demonstrations.
A number of prominent Iranians, including “five movie personalities” were summoned to the prosecutor’s office on Saturday for publishing “unverified comments about the recent events, as well as the publication of provocative material in support of street riots,” according to the news agency Mizan, which is owned by the Iranian judiciary.
Among those summoned was Mahmoud Sadeghi, a former member of Parliament from a reform faction in Iran, who posted on Twitter criticizing the killing of a 10-year-old boy this past week.
The government also summoned Yahya Golmohammadi, a former defender on Iran’s national soccer team. The news comes as the team is in Qatar for the World Cup.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday before Iran’s first match, against England, Ehsan Hajsafi, the team’s captain, said, “We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy.”
“We are here, but it does not mean that we should not be their voice, or we must not respect them,” he added.
Toomaj Salehi, a rapper who was arrested after releasing music in support of the demonstrations, has been charged with “propagandistic activity against the government, cooperation with hostile governments and forming illegal groups with the intention of creating insecurity in the country,” according to IRNA — charges that could be punishable by death. The 32-year-old musician has been detained since late October in Tehran’s Evin prison complex, which is notorious for widespread human rights violations.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said this month that the Iranian authorities had arrested at least 51 journalists since the start of the protests, including Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, two female reporters who were instrumental in breaking the story of Ms. Amini’s death.
The government has accused the pair, without evidence, of being foreign agents who received training by the United States to create chaos. The publications they work for have denied the charges.