Haleh Sahabi’s death was not accidental but deliberate, by a regime that has been reduced to showing its true character. The story of her death as she mourns the death of her father is told by Hamed Dabashi, Al Jazeera, June 3, 2011.
Haleh Sahabi: Our Antigone in Tehran: Haleh Sahabi defied human law to defend moral, divine law; her life writing a heroic legend of the future. AlJazeera [6/3/11]
Haleh Sahabi, 54, was a distinguished Quranic hermeneutician, a religious comparatist, a women’s rights scholar, and a committed activist to the cause of her people’s civil liberties. Haleh Sahabi was sentenced to a two-year prison term after she had joined a rally in front of the Iranian parliament in the aftermath of the contested presidential election of 2009.
While serving her term in jail, Haleh Sahabi was informed of her father’s impending death. He was the prominent Iranian dissident Ezzatollah Sahabi (1930-2011), a revered democracy activist, known and admired for his mild manner, open-minded generosity of spirit, a liberal demeanor, and a commitment to non-violent activism on a religious-nationalist platform for over half a century.
Haleh Sahabi was briefly allowed out of prison to be present for the final days of her father’s life. Ezzatollah died, at the age of 81 on May 31, 2011. Millions of Iranians in and out of their homeland were saddened by his death, deeply grateful for his moderate and caring positions, even those who did not agree with him.
His funeral began on the following day, June 1, under tight security control, and – according to a number of reliable eyewitness accounts- including those of Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, and Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyyed Javadi, an aging opposition politician – a band of organised plainclothes security forces began to disrupt the funeral, ridiculing and humiliating the attendants, and moved to snatch the body of the deceased from those who were carrying it for a proper burial.
Haleh Sahabi, leading the funeral, tried to prevent the disruption, while holding on to a picture of her father. The picture was violently taken away from her by a security agent and she was hit on her side. She fell to the ground in the scuffle and soon after died of a cardiac arrest.
The International campaign for Human Rights in Iran holds the plainclothes security forces responsible for Haleh Sahabi’s death, and has called for an official investigation. “The shameful actions of government thugs in this incident reveal a deep contempt for traditions that belong to all Iranians, and they have resulted in a tragedy,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the campaign. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace laureate, has declared Haleh Sahabi’s death,”intentional murder”.
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