By Celine Alkhaldi and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
Iranian security forces arrested a woman after a photo of her and another woman eating at a Tehran restaurant without their head scarves was widely circulated online, her family said Friday. The photo emerged Wednesday showing the two women having breakfast at a cafe that, like most coffeehouses in Iran, is traditionally patronized by men.
One of the women in the photo, Donya Rad, was arrested shortly after the photo was published online. CNN spoke with her sister who said security agencies contacted Donya and summoned her to explain her actions.
“After visiting the designated place she was arrested, after a few hours of no news, Donya told me in a short call that she was transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison,” her sister told CNN. Tehran’s Evin Prison is a notoriously brutal facility where the regime incarcerates political dissidents and is exclusively designated for prisoners managed by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.
CNN has reached out to Iranian authorities about the alleged arrests.
In recent days, security forces have reportedly detained several influential Iranians, including writer and poet Mona Borzouei, Iranian football player Hossein Mahini, and the daughter of former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Faezeh Rafsanjani.
Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour was also arrested this week after releasing a poignant song based on tweets shared by Iranians expressing sentiments of why people are protesting, according to NGO Iran Human Rights.
Hajipour’s song “For…” went viral online, receiving millions of views and is being shared widely among Iranians both inside and outside of the country.
On the cover of state-aligned newspaper Hamshahri daily on Thursday, the headline read “Celebrities of Disturbance” with a picture of former football player Ali Karimi standing alongside notable Iranian actors and actresses who have been vocal in supporting the protests. The article says they “are one of the main reasons for recent popular protests.”
“We are not the ones causing the disturbances. We are a drop from the people,” Iranian Actor Ehsan Karamy said in an Instagram post addressing claims made by authorities. “Don’t mislead the people. Go after the hardliners who have provided the firewood for this fire piece by piece.”
The government crackdown has continued after almost two weeks of protests, with dozens dying in clashes between security forces. Iran Human Rights estimates that at least 83 people including children, are confirmed to have been killed in protests following the death of Mahsa Amini.
More than a thousand people connected to the protests have been detained as of last weekend, according to state news agency IRNA. At least 28 journalists arrested were arrested as of Thursday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Amnesty International on Thursday said they are “investigating the authorities carrying out mass arrests of protesters and bystanders, as well as journalists, political activists, lawyers, and human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists and those belonging to oppressed ethnic minority groups.”
Despite the growing death toll and a fierce crackdown by authorities, videos circulating on social media show protestors calling for the fall of the clerical establishment in the cities of Qom, Rasht and Mashhad.
CNN cannot independently verify arrest or detention claims. A precise number of protestors arrested or detained is impossible for those outside Iran’s government to confirm. Numbers vary by opposition groups, international rights organizations and local journalists.
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