Haleh Sahabi, a human rights activist and women rights champion, died today in a scuffle that broke out with Iranian government security forces at her father’s funeral, Reuters reported.
Haleh was arrested for participating in protests following the 2009 election, and temporary released to attend the ceremony. Her father, Ezzatollah Sahabi (1930-2011) was a politician and former parliament member who spent about 15 years in prison before and after the Islamic revolution, and also was a member of the interim government installed after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. He resigned in protest over the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.
Iran state news agencies and Iranian officials denied that Haleh died at the hands of security forces and instead have said she died as a result of a heart attack due to the high temperatures. However, eyewitnesses, including Ayatollah Montazeri’s son and Haleh’s uncle, indicate that she was killed after being hit and punched by regime militia and they hold the regime responsible for her death.
Shirin Ebadi, in her interview with Deutsche Welle Persian, pointed out that Haleh’s death is considered a murder and can be investigated by the UN Human Rights Council.
In addition, the U.S. State Department called for an investigation into Haleh’s death.
NIAC issued a statement condemning the killing:
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Haleh Sahabi’s death at the hands of Iranian government security forces marks the tragic closing of yet another chapter in Iran’s long struggle for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Just as her father dedicated his entire life to achieving a democratic Iran, Haleh ultimately lost her life in pursuit of this cause and, like him, died as a political prisoner. Iran’s government must release all prisoners of conscience and end the systematic repression that has led to so much suffering in Iran but failed to diminish the Iranian people’s aspirations for a brighter future.