One of our Observers in Tehran alerted us to the arrest of one of his friends following the first water fight. He sent us the following transcription of his friend’s account.
I decided to go to this event just to take photos for my blog
. I didn’t see it as anything political; I just thought it would make for good pictures. There were a lot of people there, mostly young ones, both men and women. They were, quite simply, happy to be there and having fun.
I then published the photos on my blog and they rapidly spread online. Several of my friends shared them on their Facebook accounts, and they were published on other websites. Six days later, on August 3, I got a phone call from the morality police
[a police unit specially dedicated to the monitoring and repression of ‘anti-Islamic’ attire, acts and behaviour]. They asked me to come down to their headquarters. I said I could go the following morning. Thirty minutes later, however, when I left my house, several plainclothes police were waiting in front of my door. They asked me to follow them. They were very polite. These officers won’t mistreat you as long as you stay calm and don’t get carried away.
“The judge accused me of spreading anti-Islamic propaganda because I photographed girls without headscarves”
I was locked up for four days in a cell with four other men who participated in the water fight. Five girls were also arrested, but they were held in another spot. They asked me why I took these photos, why I had published them on my blog, for what press agency I worked for. They wanted to know if I knew the people who had organised the fights. And above all, they wanted to know if I worked for people abroad. Also, while I was in prison, they broke into my home and took my camera and computer. I was sent before a judge. He accused me of spreading anti-Islamic and anti-governmental propaganda, because I photographed girls without headscarves.
“Before letting me out, they made sure to tell me not to write or talk about my arrest”
The policemen weren’t violent with us. We were given food before and after sunset [in accordance with Ramadan rules], but we weren’t allowed to shower. Before letting me out, the police made sure to tell me not to talk about my arrest or write about it on my blog. Today I feel better; I’m with my family and friends. But I’m very afraid. All of the people arrested these past few days [following the water fight] were released, but authorities continued to track all those who write about the water fights on the Internet.”
The above photos were taken on July 29 by tehranlive.org's photographer, who was arrested for publishing them on the Internet. For more photos, see this Facebook page.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Peggy Bruguière.