Iranian IRGC arrest and accuse LGBT activist of human trafficking

According to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an Iranian LGBT activist who has been detained since last October has been charged with “trafficking Iranian women” to Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The IRGC’s intelligence agency made the accusation in a statement on Monday about the LGBT activist Zahra Mansouri Hamdani, also known as Sarah, who was previously arrested on charges related to an appearance in a BBC documentary on gay rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to the statement, she was “the leader of a major gang of Iranian girls trafficking to Erbil,” and the IRGC intelligence tracked her to trafficking gangs that “sold hundreds of Iranian women and girls” to customers in Erbil after months of surveillance.

The IRGC also accuses her of encouraging homosexuality, gambling, and de-stigmatizing illicit sexual relationships in cyberspace.

The organization also stated that her syndicate was run in collaboration with a man known as “Alireza Farjadi-Kia” and another woman known only as “Kati.”

On October 27, 2021, she was apprehended while attempting to cross borders and seek asylum in Turkey. She was held in solitary confinement for 53 days while the Revolutionary Guard interrogated her, insulted her identity and appearance, threatened to execute her, and took custody of her children. Sareh was charged on January 16 with “spreading corruption on Earth,” including “promoting homosexuality,” “information exchange with anti-Islamic Republic media channels,” and “promoting Christianity.”

On January 25, Amnesty International filed a petition, requesting Iran’s Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei to release the LGBT activist.

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