The Writers’ Association of Iran and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have expressed concern over the arrest of poet and journalist Arash Ghaleh-Golab during a protest over the recent collapse of a building in the Iranian port city of Abadan that left at least 39 people dead.

According to a statement from the Writers’ Association, Ghaleh-Golab was “beaten up” by security forces during a violent crackdown on protests and remains in detention while suffering from acute respiratory illness and diabetes.

The CPJ said in a separate statement that a “source familiar with the case” said that officers hit Ghaleh-Golab “with their fists and kicked him” during his arrest, adding that he is being detained without charge at an undisclosed location and not being allowed to contact his family.

Both groups chided the government for its response to the collapse of the Metropol building in Abadan, accusing it of attempting to cover up voices that were trying to bring attention to the disaster.

“More than a week has passed since these protests, and the government’s response, as always, has been nothing but censorship and repression of the people,” the Writers’ Association said.

Ghaleh-Golab has written political commentary and editorials for various local publications. Most recently, his work was published by the state-run website Ensaf News.

Crews continue to find bodies in the rubble of the collapsed residential building, with two more found on June 2. The death toll is expected to continue to rise as dozens of people are still missing.

The collapse of the unfinished building was one of Iran’s deadliest such disasters in years.

Authorities have blamed the collapse of the building on local corruption and lax safety and say 13 people, including mayors and other officials, have so far been arrested for construction violations.

“Iranian authorities must understand that they can’t hide the country’s difficult realities and problems by silencing and jailing journalists,” Justin Shilad, the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa senior researcher, said in its statement.

Source » rferl