Canadian woman missing in Iran and her family believes she’s been detained

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A B.C. father is making a tearful plea to help find his missing daughter, whom he believes is being detained in an Iranian prison.

Amir Bahraminia says his 35-year-old daughter, Behnoush, disappeared in Tehran along with her partner Mathew Safari, also known as Majid, nearly a year and a half ago.

“She is in trouble,” Bahraminia said, “I know she is in Iran. I haven’t heard her voice and I haven’t seen her.”

The couple left B.C. for Tehran in November 2021. Behnoush’s parents say the pair planned to travel to the Persian Gulf Island of Kish. The family was in constant contact with Behnoush and had a close relationship, but since landing in Tehran on Nov. 6, 2021, the family in Canada has heard nothing from them.

Behnoush had previously travelled to Iran to visit family with no issues, her father said.

There’s no record of Behnoush’s arrest or any charges, but the family says two sources in Iran, who they can’t identify for safety reasons, allege the regime is holding her in prison, on “super threats to national security.”

Her family says Behnoush, a Canadian-Iranian who lived in Metro Vancouver, was not a political person. She was a manager at a spa in West Vancouver.

They say she enjoyed spending time with her family and had a degree in psychology from Iran. She wanted to start over again in her chosen field when she immigrated to Vancouver in 2013 but couldn’t due to language barriers. Instead, her family says, Behnoush trained as an aesthetician and was devoted to her job.

Safari, also Canadian-Iranian from Port Moody, had allegedly planned to buy an apartment on Kish Island. Behnoush’s parents say the home was being built by RoyalBox Group in Iran.

Behnoush’s family also doesn’t know Safari’s whereabouts. His parents are deceased, they say, and it is not known if he has any family searching for him.

Global News reached out to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s office, which referred the question to officials at Global Affairs Canada, who said they are aware and are gathering further information to provide consular assistance.

The family notified their daughter’s mysterious disappearance last year. In recorded phone conversations, Global Affairs confirms the contact occurred and also confirms it didn’t act after being made aware of Behnoush’s disappearance. When a family representative asked why Global Affairs said it was waiting for a call back that never happened. A policy, the family, says makes no sense.

Since Behnoush’s father and mother struggle with speaking English, they have appointed realtor and family friend Nima Sheihky as a representative. He has been advocating for Behnoush.

“Behnoush is a Canadian citizen and the Government of Canada should follow my daughter’s case,” Bahraminia said, in Farsi.

The last message the family received from Behnoush was a text she sent her brother Mohammed on Nov. 5, 2021. She wrote “I’m not n Turkey” with a photo of what her mother, Parvin Jalilian, says is the hotel the couple stayed at during their layover in Istanbul, Turkiye.

Mohammed says he looks over that text and questions what she meant by it. He believes Behnoush was trying to send a clue, and that she must have written it, he assumes, in haste.

Behnoush’s boarding pass shows her on Turkish Airlines (TA) Flight 76 from Vancouver to Istanbul on Nov. 4, 2021 landing in Tehran on TA Flight 872 on Nov. 6 of that year.

The Imam Khomeini Airport Police Authority provided a document to relatives of the Bahraminia family in Iran saying Behnoush was seen at the airport in Tehran on Nov. 9, 2021.

It’s unclear what happened between Nov. 6 and 9 at the airport.

Standing in the now abandoned downtown Vancouver condo of his sister, Mohammad feels sadness surrounded by Behnoush’s presence.

“All these things around here remind me of her. I always look at her bed. She’s not there, ” he said, wiping tears off his face.

“The fact that after 15 months, they (Islamic Republic) haven’t told us what has happened, it shows me that she hasn’t done anything,” Mohammad added.

He says he wishes he could go back in time and warn his sister against travelling to Iran.

Life for the Bahraminia family is on hold. An open wound, they say, that just won’t heal, until they bring Behnoush back home to Canada.

“We need help. Help to find out what happened to my daughter,” Amir Bahraminia said.

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