According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) continues to arrest family members of dissidents. In one recent case, “Leila Haghighatjou, the sister of Fatemeh Haghighatjou, an outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic, was arrested” by the I.R.G.C. on December 19, 2016 to intimidate her sister who lives in the United States. The outlet, dedicated to highlight human rights abuses in Iran, quoted a source to state that the I.R.G.C. wants to put Fatemeh’s sister, Leila, under pressure to force Fatemeh to stop her activities as a civil rights advocate living outside of Iran.
Comment: Fatemeh Haghighatjou is a former member of the Iranian parliament (2000-2004). She is a reformist and due to her political views was forced to leave Iran and moved to live in the U.S. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Haghighatjou heads the Nonviolent Initiative for Democracy, which is based in Boston, Massachusetts. The arrest of Leila Haghighatjou has been followed by a renewed crackdown by the I.R.G.C. intelligence branch on political activists and journalists. This week alone, two more journalists were arrested on charges of “spying for foreign countries,” “spreading misinformation” and “character-assassination of [top] regime figures.” Ironically, charges of “character-assassination” are brazen on a number of levels and not least because I.R.G.C.’s own media operations, such as Fars News, are notorious for spreading untruths about regime critics.