Iran: Protesters Call for Release of Abducted Activist Teacher
Tens of activists joined the family of Mr. Hashem Khastar, the retired teacher and head of the Teachers Union Center in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Monday to protest his abduction by the Iranian regime. Dozens of protesters rallied outside of Ebn Seena Hospital to demand Khastar’s release from the psychiatric facility where he is being held without cause.
State security forces and anti-riot units were already present and immediately arrested Khastar’s son.
Mr. Khastar’s wife, Sedighe Maleki, refused to leave, saying, “I will remain here until my husband is released.”
State security forces then arrested Mrs. Maleki as well and transferred her to an unknown location. Mrs. Maleki is currently in poor health following open heart surgery.
Mr. Khastar’s sister also refused to leave the hospital, despite orders from security forces. Witnesses saw her shouting for the release of her brother.
Hashem Khastar was abducted from his farm in Mashhad on October 23rd by security forces. After his wife reported his disappearance, she received a call from a member of the Revolutionary Guards, who said that her husband was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of Ibn Seena Hospital.
Mr. Khastar has no history of psychiatric illness. He takes blood pressure medication, which is normal for his age but has no other physical ailments.
Mr. Khastar is under heavy guard and has not been allowed, visitors. Mrs. Maleki has still not been permitted to see her husband. She spoke of her frustration in an interview:
“On Thursday, I went to the courthouse for permission to visit my husband, Mr. Seyed Hashem Khastar, in Mashhad’s Ebn Seena Hospital. There was no file or records about this arrest. I spoke to the deputy public prosecutor about my husband’s arrest and he said they had not issued any orders for his arrest. I spoke with another deputy public prosecutor and he said we had not given any orders either. I received the same answer from the Intelligence Ministry, the IRGC intelligence and the police.
“The Social Emergency unit arrested him outside his orchard and took him straight to the Ebn Seena Hospital. They took blood from him and gave him an injection… Considering the fact that my husband’s life is in danger in this psychiatric hospital, he must be released immediately,” she added.
Calls to Action
Mrs. Maleki asked the protesters to demand that the Iranian regime’s judiciary immediately release Khastar.
📢At D first day of D new sanctions, D mullahs regime steps up on its crackdown:
Wife & son of D enchained teacher Hashem Khastar were arrested today in a gathering in Mashhad demanding his freedom in front of the mental hospital where Mr. Khastar is taken to by security agents👇 pic.twitter.com/2kz7ogFcJ6
— Florence Nightingale❌❌❌ (@FlorenceIran) November 5, 2018
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has issued a call for international human rights organizations to take action and call upon the Iranian region to release Mr. Khastar. The NCRI Education Commission is also calling upon the
United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council and the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran to guarantee Mr. Khastar’s safety.
Arrested for Activism
Reports published on social media by MEK sources say that Mr. Khastar was arrested by IRGC intelligence agents without a warrant and transferred to a psychiatric ward. Mrs. Maleki described the roadblocks she had encountered in her efforts to visit her husband.
“A nurse told me that Mr. Khastar has been hospitalized in an emergency room and is banned from any family visits, based on orders issued by security officials,” she said.
“He was completely healthy and after retiring spent many of his days farming. The only medication he consumed were blood pressure pills. Khastar being hospitalized in an emergency section of a special facility for psychiatric patients means [authorities] injected a special type of medication with the intention of killing him, or he had been severely injured under torture or during his arrest,” Mrs. Maleki added.
Khastar was a tireless advocate of teachers who had been arrested and imprisoned by the regime on a number of occasions for his activism. In the weeks leading up to his abduction, Khastar participated in protests on behalf of jailed teachers and made public calls for the release of his imprisoned colleagues.