Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Charity Founder Arrested For Allegations Of Insulting Leader - Statement

Iranian security forces on Sunday arrested Sharmin Meymandinejad, founder and director and two other members of Imam Ali Society, one of the biggest anti-poverty NGO in the country and shut down its head office.

In its first statement since the Sunday arrest of its founder and two members, an independent charity in Iran on Tuesday said that they were arrested because the Revolutionary Guard has targeted the group with serious security accusations.

According to the statement by Imam Ali' Popular Students Relief Society, IRGC's Sarallah Headquarters which deals with civil unrest and dissidents, has accused Sharmin Meymandinejad, the founder of the NGO, of "insulting the Leader and founder of the Islamic Republic". Another member has been accused of "acting against national security".

Meymandinejad and two others who were arrested on Sunday are being kept at an unknown location and the authorities have practically provided no information about the arrests, the statement said.

The security forces searched the home and offices of Meymandinejad for hours and took away all documents, computers and servers that they found.

They also beat Morteza Keymanesh, the head of the society's public relations, during his arrest at his house and did not show any warrants for searching the premises. Anoher officer of the society, Ms. Katayoun Afrazeh, was also arrested when she went to find out about Keymanesh's arrest.

Although no official announcement has yet been made about the arrests or charges, the news agencies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard have made serious allegations against the three arrested charity workers and their NGO. Fars and Tasnim usually play the role of the media of the Revolutionary Guard.

Fars News Agency on Monday claimed that Meymandinejad had been collaborating with "anti-Iranian centers and hostile media under the guise of charity work" while Tasnim said he "wanted to bring Iran and the Iranian people under pressure by resorting to claims such as combating discrimination, human rights issue and campaigning against poverty and social problems".

In its statement, Imam Ali' Popular Students Relief Society has stressed that it considers building "bogus cases and allegations" against its founder and members completely unacceptable and that it will continue its activities.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Sadeq Zibakalam, a prominent reformist figure, said the biggest crime of the charity is their independence. "The system will generally not tolerate any independent group, even if their work is offering service to people".

Imam Ali' Popular Students Relief Society was founded in 1999 and says it is a non-political, non-governmental, independent popular organization.