UPDATED: 17.50 GMT
Shortly before 10.00pm on Sunday night (26 Dec), security forces raided the house of the father of Habibollah Latifi, the Kurdish political prisoner whose execution was to have been carried out that same morning. His death sentence was postponed as family, friends, activists and sympathisers gathered outside Sanandaj prison.
More than 30 security forces (some sources put the number closer to 50), both uniformed and plainclothes officers armed with batons and firearms raided Latifi’s father’s house. They confiscated four computers and many documents. Using brutal force they arrested Latifi’s three sisters, three brothers, father and sister-in-law.
The youngest sister, Bahareh (age 10), was not arrested, but security forces pepper-sprayed her and she lost consciousness for several hours. She has no information regarding the whereabouts or well-being of her family.
Local witnesses and other unconfirmed sources report that everyone present was arrested and taken to an undisclosed location.
Additional information indicates that certain individuals who had accompanied the family in pursuing a halt to Latifi’s execution have also been arrested. Reports indicate that many journalists and activists were included in the mass arrests.
Names released of those arrested include: Abbas Latifi (father), Iraj Latifi (brother), Eqbal Latifi (brother), Shahin Latifi (sister), Elahe Latifi (sister), Bahar Latifi (sister), Jiyan Matapour (sister-in-law), Simin Chaichi (poet and author), Hamid Malek Alkilany (environmental activist), Saeed Saadi (journalist), Mahmoud Mahmoudi (journalist), Jiyan Zafari (former political prisoner), Wahid Majidy (former political prisoner), Zahid Moradian (activist), Hashem Rostami (activist), and Pedram Nasrolahi (activist). There is also news that Mokhtar Zarei a student activist has also disappeared.
Several sources close to the case told the International Campaign for Human Rights (ICHR) in Iran that they are concerned the prisoner of conscience’s family were arrested in an effort to silence them while the execution is carried out. The authorities may not be pleased with the wave of publicity the family created around Latifi’s impending execution.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of Iran Human Rights, expressed concern about the security of Habibollah Latifi and his family and said: ‘We must remember that Mr Latifi’s execution was just postponed and we don’t know for how long.’ He added: ‘It is possible that Mr Latifi’s family members were arrested in an effort to silence them while the authorities carry out the execution.’
It has also been reported that both Internet and phone lines are slow or down in Sanandaj. It is very difficult to get through or get information out. Security forces can be seen all around the city of Sanandaj in order to stop any further protests, however, activists have still gathered in front of the Court and the Sanandaj Prison demanding information about those recently arrested.
Habibollah Latifi is a political prisoner sentenced to death currently incarcerated at the central prison in Sanandaj. His execution was scheduled for 6.30am on Sunday, 26 December and later postponed.
Kurdistan Commentary will continue to update this story as news becomes available.
Sources: HRANA, RAHANA, ICHR/Iran, Centre to Defend Families of those Slain and Detained in Iran, EAWorld View, Persian2English, and tweets from various activists in the region.