Shock at sudden death of environmentalist in Iranian prison

Shock at sudden death of environmentalist in Iranian prison

Shock at sudden death of environmentalist in Iranian prison

The death of Kavous Seyed-Emami, who was imprisoned by Iranian authorities in January, was reported by his son, Iranian musician Raam Emami, who said his mother was informed of Seyed-Emami's death on February 9.

Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, Tehran's prosecutor general, on Sunday confirmed suicide of Kavous Seyed-Emami, a sociology professor at Imam Sadiq University.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), a non-profit group based in NY, said at least nine other staff members and executives of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation were arrested the same day as Seyed-Emami, citing information from a relative of one of those arrested.

Announcing the death on social media, Seyed-Emami's son, Ramin, cast doubt on the official claim that the cause was suicide.

The Tehran prosecutor's office told Seyed-Emami's wife that he committed suicide by hanging himself. "I still can't believe this", Raam Emami wrote from an unknown location. The family has asked for an independent autopsy, he said.

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The Iran Sociology Association, of which Emami was an active member, released a statement on Sunday questioning the claim that Emami took his own life. "The information published about him is not believable and we expect officials to respond", the statement reads in part.

A source close to the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation told AFP that the other seven were still in jail. They made similar and highly questionable claims regarding two other recent deaths that occured in custody in Tehran and Arak.

"The Iranian judiciary and security agencies are not only silent about those who break the law and endanger the lives of prisoners, but in fact protect them as well", Ghaemi said.

Illustrative: Evin Prison in Iran.

They include an Iranian-American dual national, Morad Tahbaz, CHRI said.

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Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi and his 81-year-old father Baquer, a former UNICEF representative who served as governor of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province under the US -backed shah, are both serving 10-year sentences on espionage charges.

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"He was one of the best professors". He loved Iran and the environment. "On his return, he was called in several times" by the authorities.

Seyed-Emami is the second Iranian-Canadian to die in prison in Iran following the murder of 54-year-old photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in 2003.

It is unclear and highly questionable why Seyed-Emami, a professor of sociology at Imam Sadeq University in Tehran who holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of OR (1991), would commit suicide days after his arrest. Iranian-Canadian national Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a member of Iran's 2015 nuclear negotiating team, is believed to be serving a five-year sentence on espionage charges.

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Canada severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, after its government criticized the Islamic republic's support for the Syrian regime, its "incitement to genocide" against Israel and its leaders' failure to account for their nuclear program. A United Nations panel in September described "an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of dual nationals" in Iran, which Tehran denies.

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