Iranian activist dies at father's funeral

Wed 01 Jun 2011 06:14 GMT | 10:14 Local Time

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Interference by the security forces is thought to have led to the death of opposition activist Haleh Sahabi at her father's funeral.

Haleh Sahabi had been let out of prison to attend the funeral of her father, Ezatollah Sahabi, himself a prominent political activist.

A journalist present at the funeral procession told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that a large group of plainclothes and security forces had beaten mourners at the funeral ceremony.

Haleh Sahabi was holding a photograph of her father in her hands when she was attacked by a group of plainclothes forces who tried to take the photograph away from her, the journalist said. She then headed towards her father’s coffin, but was beaten and pulled away from the coffin, which was taken away by government forces.

At this point, Haleh Sahabi suffered a heart attack, the journalist said.  She was taken to Lavasan clinic in Tehran but her life could not be saved.

Haleh Sahabi's son, Yahya Shamekhi, said she had become upset after security officials tried to stop the ceremony and is thought to have had a heart attack, according to the BBC.

“The shameful actions of government thugs in this incident reveal a deep contempt for traditions that belong to all Iranians, and they have resulted in a tragedy,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The Campaign has called upon the Iranian judiciary to investigate the incident at Ezatollah Sahabi’s funeral, and for Iran’s highest political and religious authorities to forbid security forces to make any physical or psychological assaults or interfere in any other way in funeral observances, regardless of the political views of the deceased and their families.

Haleh Sahabi, 54, was herself a political activist and religious scholar.

A member of the Mothers for Peace group and a campaigner for women's rights, Haleh Sahabi was one of a group of government critics who were arrested in front of the parliament during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's swearing-in ceremony on 6 August 2009. She was sentenced to two years in prison.

Ezatollah Sahabi was a member of the interim government installed after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, which resigned in protest over the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.




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