By Amir Taghati
Back in February, prominent environmentalist Professor Kavous Seyed Emami died in prison, only a few weeks after he and seven of his colleagues from the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a charity working to protect endangered species in Iran, were arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Iranian authorities claimed that the Iranian-Canadian citizen had committed suicide, but many found this hard to believe, especially given the Regime’s habit of torturing detainees to death.
Eight months later, his seven colleagues and another environmental activist arrested in March are still detained without trial, without the charges against them being made clear, and without access to a lawyer of their own choosing. The Iranian Regime has still not carried out a proper investigation into Seyed Emami’s death, but they have barred his wife Maryam – also an Iranian-Canadian citizen – from leaving the country.
All of this is happening whilst climate change ravages the Middle East and the Iranian Regime does nothing to help its people cope with the effects. Instead, they lock up the very people who can help to predict these events and protect against them, by lying about their motives and accusing them of spying for the West. Something that even an investigation by the Regime’s parliament has found no evidence of.
The Regime even arrested its own deputy head of the Department of the Environment, Kaveh Madani, who had previously returned from the UK to help with the country’s water problems. He was released, but soon fled the country in order to avoid being detained again.
The Atlantic Council, wrote: “Nine months of pre-trial detention with no clear charges and no access to a lawyer is an unusually long time even by Iran’s dismal due process standards. It’s hard not to conclude that the authorities are struggling to gather enough evidence to charge them with any recognizable crime.”
It seems clear that this is just another example of the Iranian mistrusting anyone with ties to the West, which is why the Iranian Regime has arrested dozens of dual and foreign nationals as well as Iranian citizens who have studied or worked abroad, since the 2015 nuclear accord was signed.
Many Regime-affiliated media outlets in Iran have continued to push the narrative of the West attempting to infiltrate Iran under the guise of scientific research or wildlife preservation, even accusing some activists by name of collaborating with the West, with no proof provided.
This repression is worrying all other environmental groups in the country, who wonder if they will be next.