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The arrest, torture, false accusation, and illegal imprisonment of political, human rights, and social activists have been widespread in Iran over the last four decades. Lately, environmental activists are the new target of the regime’s harassment and suppression apparatus.

Four decades, environmental degradation, including but not limited, to air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, over-consumption of surface and ground water, and water scarcity has been one of the most important public concerns in Iran. In response to this unpleasant situation which threatens public health, hundreds of ordinary citizens raised their voices against regime’s environmental policies and mismanagement in various ways by asking the government to take immediate actions to improve the situation. Even these nonpolitical and legitimate demands of citizens were not tolerated and the security forces started to harass environmental activists.

Iran has arrested at least a dozen environmental activists since January on charges of spying for foreign intelligence agencies, but few details have been released. One of them, Kavous Seyed Emami, a 63-year-old professor and renowned environmentalist died suspiciously in prison a few days after his arrest. According to Iranian authorities, he committed suicide. His family and friends strongly deny this claim. The burned body of Dr. Farshid Haki another human rights and environmental activist was found in his car a few days ago, his tragic death is under investigation. In all of these cases, there is not any convincing explanation regarding the reason of environmental activists’ arrest and imprisonment.

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all Iranian environmental activists and other prisoners of conscience. We also demand the punishment of those who are responsible for the tragic deaths of these two environmental activists.

Union for Secular Republic and Human Rights in Iran

October 26, 2018