Sept 16 (Reuters) – Mahza Amini’s father was briefly detained on Saturday amid heavy security forces on the first anniversary of his daughter’s death in Iranian police custody that sparked months of anti-government protests, human rights groups said.
The Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported that Amjad Amini had been warned against celebrating the anniversary of her daughter’s death before her release. Iran’s official IRNA news agency denied Amjad Amini had been arrested, but did not say whether he was briefly detained or warned.
Earlier, reports from social media and rights groups spoke of security forces being deployed around Amini’s home in Saghez, western Iran.
The death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in the custody of morality police last year for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s mandatory dress code sparked months of protests, marking the largest protest against the authorities in years.
Many called for an end to more than four decades of Shia clerical rule.
Amini’s parents said in a statement earlier this week that they would hold a “traditional and religious anniversary” at their 22-year-old daughter’s grave in Saks, despite government warnings, according to social media posts.
A massive security force was deployed in Iran’s predominantly Kurdish areas on Saturday in anticipation of unrest, according to human rights groups.
Widespread strikes were also reported in several cities in Iran’s Kurdistan region.
However, IRNA said Amini’s hometown of Saghez was “completely peaceful” and that calls for a strike in Kurdish areas had failed due to “people’s awareness and the presence of security and military forces”.
It quoted an official in Kurdistan province as saying: “Several agents linked to counter-revolutionary groups who planned to create chaos and create fodder for the media were arrested early today.”
Rights groups say more than 500 people, including 71 minors, have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested in the protests that followed Amini’s death. Iran carried out seven executions in connection with the unrest.
In a report last month, Amnesty International said Iranian authorities “arbitrarily arrest and detain victims’ families, impose brutal restrictions on peaceful gatherings at cemeteries, and destroy victims’ graves”.
Many journalists, lawyers, activists, students, academics, artists, public figures and members of ethnic minorities accused of being associated with the protest wave, as well as relatives of protesters killed in the unrest, were arrested, summoned, threatened or fired. In the past few weeks, according to Iranian and Western human rights groups.
Iran’s Etemad daily reported in August that a lawyer for Amini’s family also faced charges of “propaganda against the establishment”. If convicted, Saleh Nikbakht faces one to three years in prison.
Editing by Toby Chopra and Alex Richardson
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