Iran arrests girl, 3, in raid on actor's home

Child held for hours by security forces and sat through mother's interrogation, reports said

Mehdi Etemad Saeed with his wife and child. Photo: Instagram
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Iranian security forces have reportedly detained a three-year-old child and her mother during a raid on their home in the latest in a string of clampdowns on relatives of detained activists and public figures.

Narges Sardari and her daughter Afra, three, were arrested in a raid on their home on Wednesday, Iran International reported on Thursday.

The toddler was present at her mother's interrogation and was held for several hours until her grandmother was summoned to collect her, it said.

Her father, actor Medhi Etemad Saeed, had been held without charge since his arrest in May, according to relatives and friends who have been outspoken in calling for information on his whereabouts.

Less than a month before the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death, Tehran has stepped up arrests and intimidation campaigns in a bid to stifle anti-regime sentiment, which remains strong despite hundreds of protesters being killed in last year's demonstrations.

Ms Amini's death in morality police custody sparked the biggest protests in decades and posed a serious challenge to Tehran, which responded by blinding protesters and detaining more than 18,000 people.

The families of approximately 500 killed continue to be pressured into silence and are also prevented from gathering to remember their loved ones.

Ms Sardari has regularly posted about her husband on social media and the impact it has had on her daughter.

"Today is 50 days that Mehdi Etemad Saeed, my husband, has been arrested by security forces. No explanation, no reason, no lawyer," she wrote on Instagram late last month, adding that the family had not heard from the actor in three weeks.

"Fifty days of Afra opening her eyes in the morning and asking: Mum, is Dad coming [home]?".

Iran has not said why he was arrested.

Iranian security forces often detain children and have been known to execute people convicted of crimes committed as juveniles.

In November, the toddler niece of executed wrestler Navid Afkari was arrested along with her mother.

In western Iran, the parents and young siblings of another protester who was killed, Kumar Daroftadeh, were stopped at a checkpoint while visiting his grave on his birthday, the Hengaw Organsisation for Human Rights told The National on Thursday.

Members of the Kurdistan Human Rights Network also confirmed they were prevented from reaching his grave to mark the occasion.

One sibling, aged seven, has been left traumatised by the incident, according to Hengaw director Arsalan Yarahmadi.

"Their youngest child is very scared," he told The National.

The group claimed they were held for three hours and forced to strip to their underwear, claims that could not be verified by The National.

Mr Daroftadeh's family have been vocal in their anger over his death, taking to social media to berate the regime for the death of their son.

Journalists who speak to bereaved relatives are also targeted.

The reporters who first shared the story of Ms Amini were promptly arrested and now face the death sentence.

Journalist Nazila Maroufian, who interviewed her father, was rearrested this week shortly after her release from Evin prison in Tehran, a jail notorious for its torture and mistreatment of human rights defenders, lawyers and dual citizens, among others.

Updated: August 17, 2023, 4:30 PM