Iran arrests founder, members of student charity organization for unknown reasons

A female prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006. (File photo: AFP)

Iran has arrested the founder and two members of one of the largest non-governmental charities in the country for unknown reasons, the charity said on Monday.

Student charity the Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society tweeted early Monday that security forces arrested its founder Sharmin Meymandi at his home.

Morteza Keymanesh and Katayoun Afrazeh, two other members of the charity, have also been arrested, the charity said.

Judicial authorities have not yet said why the three have been arrested.

Figures and outlets close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have in recent years been critical of the charity, accusing it of smearing the regime by highlighting Iran’s problems.

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade in Tehran on September 22, 2018. (AFP)

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade in Tehran on September 22, 2018. (AFP)

The charity mainly organizes students and other volunteers to help low-income Iranians and others in times of natural disasters.

“Certain institutions” in Iran pressure groups to stop cooperating with the charity, the charity’s managing director Zahra Rahimi told the official IRNA news agency last year.

Individuals and groups who previously cooperated with the charity were ordered to stop doing so, said Rahimi.

“They link you to all kinds of groups without any evidence. They have linked us to groups that I do not even know, they have linked us to the monarchists and others. Please let us do our job,” she said.

In response to Rahimi’s interview, an official from the ministry of interior said at the time that the charity should take legal action if it knows the source of the threats, and if it does not, it should ignore the threats.

The charity had also previously said that some of its members received “threatening” phone calls when they were helping those affected by floods last year.

In a statement on the country’s anti-government protests last November, the charity had criticized authorities’ labeling of protesters.

“Calling the poverty-stricken protesters outlaws, rioters and enemy agents” does not solve any problems, the charity said.

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Last Update: Monday, 22 June 2020 KSA 18:11 - GMT 15:11
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