Iranian police arrested twenty young people at a private party in Karaj, near Tehran. The arrests came just a week after police in Karaj raided a rock concert and detained over two-hundred young Iranians. Boys and girls reportedly mingled and danced together, activities forbidden in Iran. Some of the girls, it was said, were not wearing the headscarves and attire required by the Iranian regime.
For months, Iranian authorities have been persecuting people for what they call improper dress and behavior. An Iranian police official, Hossein Zolfaghari, said “more than five-hundred-twenty-seven-thousand people have been warned, over twenty-thousand have been arrested and then released conditionally, and a total of two-thousand-two-hundred-sixty-five cases – including men and women – have been presented to [the] judiciary for trial on the charge of noncompliance with the Islamic dress code.”
“I saw two girls of around sixteen [years of age] in Evin [prison in Tehran] who were arrested for dressing improperly,” said Zeinab Peighambarzadeh, an Iranian women’s rights activist. “They had been beaten badly and their bodies were all bruised,” she said.
Roya Boroumand is the executive director of the Washington-based Boroumand Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran. She says Iran’s young people are struggling for the same right of free association that is denied to minority groups, labor organizers, and other groups in Iran:
"There is something that links the minorities to the unionists to women activists to student activists – all these people are trying to have some sort of associative life outside of the government and independent of the government."
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a written statement that “the United States stands with all students and civil society leaders in Iran, who courageously struggle for their universal rights and justice in their country.”