Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady

Kameel Ahmady, a renowned anthropologist, was arrested by police in Tehran on Sunday on unspecified allegations. (Photo/Kameel Ahmady Facebook account)
Updated 14 August 2019

Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady

  • A one-month temporary detention order has been issued against Ahmady
  • Ahmady has researched female genital mutilation and child marriage in Iran, among other subjects

LONDON: Iran has arrested a British-Iranian dual national, further threatening tensions between the UK and Tehran following the seizure of a British tanker last month.
Kameel Ahmady, a social anthropologist, was arrested on Sunday from his home in western Iran without any reason, his wife told BBC Persian.
Shafaq Rahmani claimed security agents came to their house and confiscated documents, including his ID card.
She said he had not been officially charged, but officials at Evin prison say he faces several charges related to his activities.
“They have not provided any information about the reason for the arrest or the charges against Kameel,” Rahmani wrote on Instagram.
According to a website affiliated with his name, Ahmady has researched female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriages and other issues related to gender, children and minorities in Iran, the Middle East and Africa.
Ahmady, who was born in Iranian Kurdistan but moved to Britain in his 20s, took global campaigners by surprise in 2015 when he published a study suggesting tens of thousands of Iranian women have undergone FGM.
The report called on the Iranian government to introduce laws on FGM, develop a national plan to end the practice and incorporate the issue into education and health programs.
“Iran doesn’t have a brilliant record when it comes to women’s rights and is very worried about destabilizing border areas,” Ahmady told the Reuters. “It doesn’t want a headache with these communities where its motives are generally not trusted.”
A spokesman for the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, who reported his arrest, said Ahmady has lived in Iran for many years, the BBC reported.
Rahmani also said Iranian authorities told her that a local judicial official, based at Evin Prison, had given Ahmady a temporary one-month detention court order.
Located in northern Tehran, Evin prison is notorious for keeping political prisoners, dissidents and dual Iranian nationals accused of plotting against the government since 1972, even before the Iranian revolution started.
They are held in a purpose-built wing nicknamed “Evin University” due to the number of intellectuals imprisoned there. The prison has been accused of committing “serious human rights abuses” against its political dissidents and critics of the government, according to the US government.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality.
Another British-Iranian national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran in April 2016 at Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit. She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge she denies.
In May, the UK Foreign Office advised British-Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran out of fear they face an “intolerable risk of mistreatment” and arbitrary detention.
It came after British Council worker Aras Amiri was jailed for 10 years for spying, while visiting her grandmother.
The recent arrest comes amid heightened tension between Britain and Iran over the seizure of oil tankers.
The British territory of Gibraltar is holding an Iranian oil tanker seized by Royal Marines in the Mediterranean.
In retaliation Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps troops seized the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.


Turkey replaces three pro-Kurdish party mayors for suspected militant links

Updated 2 min 4 sec ago

Turkey replaces three pro-Kurdish party mayors for suspected militant links

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkey replaced pro-Kurdish party mayors with state officials in three southeastern cities and detained more than 400 people for suspected militant links on Monday, the Interior Ministry said, in a move likely to fuel tensions in Turkey’s southeast.
Ahead of nationwide local elections in March, President Tayyip Erdogan had warned of such a move against elected officials if they were found to have connections to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The mayors in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, major cities in the mainly Kurdish southeast, were accused of various crimes including membership of a terrorist organization and spreading terrorist group propaganda, the ministry statement said.
“For the health of the investigations, they have been temporarily removed from their posts as a precaution,” it said, referring to Diyarbakir Mayor Selcuk Mizrakli, Mardin Mayor Ahmet Turk and Van Mayor Bedia Ozgokce Ertan.
CNN Turk showed police sealing off the municipality headquarters in Diyarbakir with metal barriers, with water cannon vehicles and riot police deployed outside.
The Interior Ministry said on Twitter that police detained 418 people in 29 provinces in an investigation targeting suspects with links to the PKK militant group.
The removal of the mayors echoed the dismissal of dozens of mayors in 2016 over similar accusations, part of a purge that began after a failed coup. Nearly 100 mayors and thousands of party members were jailed in a crackdown that drew expressions of concern from the United States and European Union.
Ahead of the March election Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 178 current election candidates were being investigated over alleged PKK links.
Erdogan at the time warned that pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors could again be dismissed if they, like their predecessors, are deemed to have ties to militants.
Erdogan frequently accuses the HDP of links to the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and United States. The HDP denies such links.
The PKK launched an insurgency in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.