Bagher Asadi, a high-ranking Iranian diplomat was detained in Tehran in March as a part of the crackdown on dissidents in the weeks leading to the Iranian presidential elections, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Asadi, who had previously worked in the Iranian UN Mission in New York, was a director of the Istanbul-based D8 Group of Developing Countries. The Reuters source stated that he did not know the reason for the arrest.
During the same period, two prominent figures close to reformists in the Fars Province were arrested in Shiraz. On April 10, Jamileh Karimi, a former advisor to Fars Province Governor during the Mohammad Khatami era and a member of the Central Coalition Council of Fars Province Reformists was arrested. Security forces arrested Abdolhamid Moafian, Chairman of the Fars Province Reformists Coordinating Council and head of Ehsan Cultural Center on April 24.
In a January 2004 New York Times Op-Ed, Bagher Asadi warned of the negative consequences of the conservatives’ coming into power. The next year Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power. Asadi had also warned that the conservatives would disregard human rights and the republican aspects of the Islamic Republic, leading to a deterioration of conditions in these areas.
“Bagher Asadi was an unbiased diplomat, but because of his criticism to the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, he had become isolated inside the Foreign Ministry. Even so, he was a professional and never entered into any political discussions publicly, nor would he take sides with any groups,” a source familiar with Bagher Asadi during his UN tenure told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “He was respected at the UN and despite job offers from international organizations for his qualifications, he preferred to continue working at the Iranian Foreign Ministry.”
Bagher Asadi’s family has not yet reacted to his arrest. The offices of the Iran Mission at the UN did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. Bagheri was appointed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a panel of distinguished individuals in 2003 to address UN relations with civil society.
A source close to the family of Jamileh Karimi told JARAS website about her arrest. “A group of plainclothes individuals who introduced themselves as Intelligence Office forces, arrested her at her home on Wednesday morning [April 10] . Her home was searched and several of her personal items were confiscated. They then went to her place of work at the school and searched her office there as well and confiscate some of her items. It has been said that she was transferred to Numbre 100 [the Shiraz Intelligence Office Detention Center]. The others who were arrested before were also transferred to that notorious Number 100,” the source said. After 15 days without permission to have visitors, Jamileh Karimi was finally able to visit with one of her brothers on April 23.
While there is no news about the arrest location of Abdolhamid Moafian, there is speculation that he, too, has been transferred to the Number 100 Detention Center. Security forces have placed immense pressure on his family not to talk about his arrest with the media. Abdolhamid Moafian is considered a Mohammad Khatami supporter in Fars Province.