Mystery surrounds suicide of Iranian bloggers


Opposition supporters believe young couple were pressured to testify against missing human rights activist Kouhyar Goudarzi.

Two Iranian bloggers have killed themselves after being detained by security officials thought to be from Iran‘s ministry of intelligence.

Opposition activists believe Nahal Sahabi and her partner Behnam Ganji had been under intense pressure to testify against their friend Kouhyar Goudarzi, the prominent human rights activist. Goudarzi was arrested on the same day, 31 July, and remains missing.

At the time, the authorities refused to acknowledge holding them.

A week after the arrests Sahabi and Ganji were released from jail but Goudarzi, a member of the Committe for Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) in Iran is still missing, his lawyer said by phone from Tehran.

Ganji killed himself on 1 September, followed by Sahabi on 28 September, according to an article on CHRR’s website.

The reasons behind the double suicide is unknown but speculation is rife that the pair had been pressured while in jail to testify against Goudarzi.

“She suffered from depression after Behnam had mysteriously committed suicide a couple days after he was released from prison,” said the CHRR article. “Kouhyar Goudarzi is still detained incommunicado.

“There is no information on what happened to Behnam Ganji and Kouhyar Goudarzi in prison. Behnam Ganji’s suicide has raised serious concerns regarding Kouhyar Goudarzi’s unknown situation.”

On her last blogpost, addressed to parents and friends, Sahabi wrote about Ganji and shared a YouTube video of a song by the Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou, called Wedding Waltz.

Goudarzi, 25, was previously arrested in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed presidential elections in 2009.

He was initially accused of moharebeh (waging war against God), which carries a death sentence, but was convicted of “spreading propaganda against the regime” and sentenced to a year in prison.

While there, Goudarzi won the National Press Club award for his human rights work. He was released from prison in December last year.

A day after his arrest in July, Goudarzi’s mother, Parvin Mokhtareh, was detained in the southern city of Kerman. She has been accused of insulting the supreme leader, propaganda against the regime and acting against national security. Amnesty said the charges stemmed from an interview she gave when her son was jailed in 2010 “in relation to his peaceful human rights activities”.



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