Turkish authorities arrested an Iranian women’s rights activist, Maryam Shariatmadari, in the southwestern Turkish city of Denizli in order to deport her back to Iran. The arrest took place on the eve of holding the Sixth Meeting of Supreme Council of Strategic Relations between Iran and Turkey.
In a short video shot from inside the police car and shared on her Instagram, Shariatmadari said that Turkish police detained her late at night and that her arrest was a pretext for her deportation.
“This is without cause. They have chosen a few people to sacrifice and deport. I only ask that you share this news, that is the only way you can help right now,” Shariatmadari said in the video.
The video was widely circulated on social media by Iranians who have been calling for Shariatmadari’s release and criticizing the Turkish government’s treatment of refugees.
Shariatmadari said that immigration police had arrested her for allegedly not obtaining legal residency documents.
The Iran International Network reported that, after her arrest, Shariatmadari was escorted to a hospital to get tested for the coronavirus, which is a prerequisite for travel between Iran and Turkey.
“History has shown that if returned to Iran, [Shariatmadari]’s life will be in imminent danger. She must not be returned to her oppressors,” former Iranian crown prince Reza Pahlavi said on Twitter.
Shariatmadari was one of several Iranian women who protested against compulsory hijab in Iran by removing and waving her headscarf in Enghelab (Revolution) Street in the capital Tehran. These women came to be known as the “girls of revolution street.”
Shariatmadari took off and waved her headscarf as she stood on a platform on Enghelab Street in 2018. Her action was met with a violent reaction from a police officer who threw her off the platform causing her injuries.
The Iranian judiciary sentenced Shariatmadari to one year in prison for “encouraging corruption by removing the hijab.”
Shariatmadari managed to flee to Turkey after being detained for a few days in Iran.