Human Rights

Canadian Professor Detained by Iran for “Dabbling in Feminism” Is Hospitalized

A Canadian academic detained by Iranian authorities for nearly three months has been hospitalized due to her declining health, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

According to a statement released by her family, Homa Hoodfar, an anthropologist at Montreal’s Concordia University, suffers from the rare neurological disease myasthenia gravis, which causes muscle fatigue and requires special care. She is said to frequently suffer headaches and had a mild stroke last year. Hoodfar is now disoriented, severely weakened, and having difficulty talking and walking, her family said.

“Given the alarming news of Homa’s hospitalisation and declining health, we are left with no choice but to publicise these travesties of justice widely, as it has become clear that the authorities are not prioritising her health and do not intend to respect Homa’s due process rights under Iranian law,” the statement read.

Hoodfar, who has dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, traveled to Iran in February. As she was preparing to leave in March, Iranian intelligence personnel began questioning her and seized her computer, phone, and three passports. She was incarcerated in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison on June 6 and held in solitary confinement. While Hoodfar was indicted on unspecified charges, her family says that she was accused of “dabbling in feminism and security matters.”

Stéphane Dion, a spokeswoman for Canada’s global affairs minister, expressed her government’s concern “about the health, wellbeing and detention of Dr Hoodfar.”

Iran’s judiciary announced this week that it had arrested Abdul Rasoul Durri Esfahani, a member of its nuclear negotiating team who specialized in banking issues. Earlier this month, Iranian authorities said that they arrested a dual citizen over his alleged ties to British intelligence. It isn’t clear if that individual is in fact Durri Esfahani, who some Iranian outlets identified as having both Iranian and Canadian citizenship. At the time, the Associated Press wrote that many analysts believe that Iran is “seeking concessions from the West in exchange for releasing” dual nationals.

Reuters reported in July that the six dual nationals arrested in recent months comprised “the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged.”

Last month, Iranian authorities arrested dual American-Iranian citizen Reza “Robin” Shahini, who was visiting his ailing mother. Other dual nationals currently detained in Iran include British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who was forcibly separated from her toddler daughter as they prepared to leave Tehran in April; American-Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi; British-Iranian businessman Kamal Foroughi; and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national with U.S. permanent residency.

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