Iranian rights groups say authorities have detained two civil activists in the country's northwestern Kurdistan province in recent days, one a teachers union member and the other an environmentalist.
Four groups quoted sources as saying Iranian security agents arrested Mokhtar Asadi, a member of the Kurdistan Teachers Association, in Sanandaj as he traveled home with his family on Thursday. They said Asadi was detained without a warrant and taken to an unknown location, hours after dozens of teachers held a peaceful protest outside the Sanandaj educational department.
The groups reporting on Asadi's detention were Iran's Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners, Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), Kurdistan Human Rights Association and Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).
The Sanandaj rally was part of a series of teacher protests held Thursday in six Iranian cities, with activists denouncing perceived government suppression of their rights and calling for better working conditions in their poorly paid profession.
There was no word on Asadi's case in Iranian state media. He has been arrested several times before in relation to his advocacy for teachers' rights, and had been released from his most recent detention last July after spending a year in Tehran's Evin prison on a charge of spreading anti-government propaganda.
HRANA has said Iranian authorities have tightened their grip on labor unions in recent years and have shown a "particular vitriol" toward those representing educators.
U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch joined four Iranian rights organizations in reporting the arrest of environmentalist Sirwan Ghorbani in Kamyaran on Tuesday. They said Iranian security officers detained Ghorbani, also a central council member of the Kurdistan National Unity Party, at his home.
The Iranian rights groups quoted sources as saying the officers who raided Ghorbani's home put a sack over his head, seized some of his personal belongings and confiscated the mobile phone of his sister Samira Ghorbani, who fainted and had to be taken to a hospital. They said the agents also ordered Samira Ghorbani to report to a local information bureau in the coming days.
Iranian state media were silent on Sirwan Ghorbani's arrest, details of which were reported by Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners, HRANA, KHRN and the Kurdistan Press Agency (KurdPA).
The rights groups said Iranian authorities detained 10 other environmental and civil activists in Kamyaran and Sanandaj in late December and in recent days extended their arrest for another month. A Jan. 7 report by Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Kurdistan provincial deputy security chief Hussein Khosheqbal as saying those detained had been engaged in "criminal activities" on behalf of environmental groups.
Iran has come under criticism from international rights activists for its recent detentions and prosecutions of other Iranian environmentalists. Eight have been on trial since last month on spying-related charges that their supporters say are bogus.
This article originated in VOA's Persian service.