Britain has called on Iran to launch an immediate investigation into the death of Haleh Sahabi, the daughter of a veteran Iranian dissident who died during scuffles with security forces at her father’s funeral on Wednesday.
Sahabi was leading the procession at the ceremony by holding a picture of her father, Ezatollah Sahab. She died from a heart attack after reportedly being attacked by an agent and falling down.
The Foreign Office (FCO) has joined the US state department and human rights organisations in urging Iran to carefully look into the case.
“We call for an immediate and transparent investigation into her death and call on the Iranian authorities to allow her family and friends to mourn her father and her deaths without interference,” an FCO spokesperson said.
Her funeral was held within hours of her death by authorities fearing popular protest. She was reportedly buried late at night in contrast to Islamic customs. Her relatives said her body was “confiscated” and her family were deprived of performing normal religious rituals.
Iran’s opposition has blamed a security agent for Sahabi’s death, but authorities said she was already suffering from “high blood pressure and blood sugar”.
“We are particularly disturbed by reports that her death followed heavy-handed action by the Iranian security forces at the funeral and by reports that the Iranian authorities rushed her burial that night with a limited traditional funeral,” an official spokesperson said.
Haleh Sahabi, a women’s rights activist, was serving a two-year prison sentence but was allowed out temporarily to attend the funeral of her father, a highly respected dissident who was jailed before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution and spent a total of 15 years in prison.
He headed an alliance of politicians whose activities came under scrutiny in recent years especially after the disputed presidential election in 2009 which gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in the office.