Arrests of Slain Protesters’ Families Signals Looming State Violence as “Woman Life Freedom” Anniversary Nears
Authorities Seek to Quash Protest and Silence Justice-Seekers with Over 20 Arrests
August 29, 2023 – The arrests of numerous family members of protesters who were killed by state security forces in Iran, just weeks before the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the nationwide “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement that was triggered by the killing in state custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini, foreshadow another wave of state violence and intensified repression, warned the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
During the course of eight days—between August 11, 2023, and August 18—21 family members of victims of the Islamic Republic’s violence, including those who were executed in connection with the protests, as well as one lawyer representing a justice seeking-family, were either summoned to court or detained in Iran, according to research by CHRI.
“These individuals are parents whose children were gunned down in the streets by Islamic Republic security forces. Now, they face persecution for exercising their rights to mourn and seek justice,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
The arrested family members include 15-year-old Farmarz Barahouie (Abil), who was detained by state agents in Torbat Heydarieh, northeast Iran, as he was traveling to visit the grave of his brother, Esmail, and Mashallah Karami, whose 22-year-old son Mehdi was executed without due process in January 2023.
“This renewed crackdown indicates a readiness by Iranian authorities to escalate their brutality,” said Ghaemi. “A strengthened international response, such that meaningful costs are imposed on the Islamic Republic for these abuses, is needed immediately,” Ghaemi added.
The current crackdown on justice-seeking families also encompasses intensified state persecution of women’s rights activists, religious minorities, religious minority leaders, human rights lawyers, and musicians, as the government seeks to deter further protests and stifle public dissent against its repressive policies.
Families of Killed Protesters Issue Joint Statement, Urging an End to Persecution
On August 25, a group of families of victims of state violence issued a joint statement on social media declaring their refusal to be silenced, which reads:
“In these times, when they are arresting and summoning justice-seeking families by the hour, we will keep our words brief and avoid unnecessary talk. Between us, carrying the lifeless bodies of our loved ones on our shoulders, and you with your prisons, whips, and threats, only one sentence remains: ‘Swearing by the blood of our comrades, we stand to the end.’”
Coordinated action by the international community that imposes severe diplomatic, political and economic costs on the authorities in Iran for the continuation of these violations is imperative, CHRI stated.
CHRI echoes Amnesty International in urging UN member states to invoke universal jurisdiction and issue arrest warrants for Iranian officials implicated in crimes under international law, both during and after the uprising.
List of Justice-Seeking Kin Detained or Summoned Since August 11
– August 28, 2023: Amirhossein Koohkan, the lawyer representing the family of executed protester Mohammad Mehdi Karami, was detained after being summoned to court in the city of Karaj, Alborz province, and transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence’s office in Tehran.
– August 27, 2023: Vahid Kia, Masoumeh Azari, Helia Kia, and Amir Kia, the father, mother, sister and fiancé of slain street protester Hannaneh Kia, were detained by security agents during a raid on their family home in the city of Nowshahr, Mazandaran province. Hananeh Kia, 23, was killed by Islamic Republic forces during protests on September 21, 2022.
– August 27, 2023: Shahrooz Hosseinpouri, the brother of Azad Hosseinpouri who was killed by Islamic Republic forces during a protest on November 17, 2022, was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence’s office in the city of Mahabad, West Azerbaijan province and after several hours of questioning was warned not to engage in any protest activities or visit Azad’s grave.
– August 23, 2023: Leila Mahdavi, the mother of Siavash Mahmoudi, was detained in the capital of Tehran by security agents who searched her home and confiscated personal belongings, including her phone. She was also summoned to the court in Evin Prison. Siavash Mahmoudi, 16, was killed by Islamic Republic forces on September 21, 2022.
– August 23, 2023: Nasrin Alizadeh, the sister of Shirin Alizadeh, was detained in the city of Chalous, northern Iran. Shirin Alizadeh was killed inside her car when she was struck by a bullet fired by Islamic Republic forces near a protest rally in Salman Shahr, Mazandaran province, on September 22, 2022.
– August 23, 2023: Mahsa Yazdani, the mother of slain street protester Mohamad Javad Zahedi, was detained in the city of Sari, Mazandaran province, a few days before a memorial for his birthday. Mohamad Javad Zahedi, 20, was killed in a barrage of pellets fired by Islamic Republic forces on September 22, 2022.
– August 22, 2023: Abdollah Abubakri was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence’s office in Mahabad and released after several hours of questioning. He was forced to pledge not to participate in any protest rallies. Abubakr’s son, 22-year-old Zanyar, was killed by Islamic Republic forces on October 27, 2022.
– August 22, 2023: Fifteen-year-old Farmarz Barahouie (Abil) was detained by security agents in the city of Torbat Heydarieh, northeast Iran, as he was traveling to visit the grave of his brother, Esmail, who was one of more than 100 protesters killed in the “Bloody Friday” massacre in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan province, on September 30, 2022.
– August 22, 2023: Father of executed protester Mohammad Mehdi Karami, Mashallah Karami, was detained by security agents in Tehran. The laptops and phones of all his relatives were also confiscated in a raid on the family home in Karaj, west of Tehran.
– August 22, 2023: Sharmin Habibi, wife of slain protester Fereydoun Mahmoudi, was detained by security agents in the city of Saqqez, Kurdistan province. Mahmoudi, 32, was killed by Islamic Republic forces during a protest on September 19, 2022.
– August 22, 2023: Hassan and Mardin Daroftadeh, the father and brother of slain 16-year-old protester Kumar Daroftadeh, were summoned and interrogated in the Ministry of Intelligence’s office in the city of Piranshahr, West Azerbaijan province. Kumar was killed by Islamic Republic forces on October 30, 2022.
– August 19, 2023: The mother of slain street protester Abolfazl Mehdipour, known only by her first name of Fatemeh, was detained for several hours on his birthday. Abolfazl, 18, was killed by Islamic Republic forces in Babol, northern Iran, on September 21, 2022.
– August 17, 2023: Koorosh Vaziri, the husband of slain street protester Shirin Alizadeh, was detained in Isfahan, central Iran. Alizadeh was shot and killed by Islamic Republic forces on September 22, 2022.
– August 17, 2023: Mahsa Basir-Tavana, whose brother Mehran, 29, died on November 19, 2022, from injuries caused by bullets fired by Islamic Republic forces during a protest in the city of Somehsara, Gilan province, was detained by security agents.
– August 15, 2023: Amir Shahidi was summoned and threatened in the Ministry of Intelligence office in Arak, Arak province. Shahidi’s son, 18-year-old Mehrshad, was killed from injuries caused by blows to the head by batons during a protest on October 27, 2022.
– August 11, 2023: Reza Babrnejad, the brother of Mehdi Babrnejad, was detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Organization agents in Qoochan, North Khorasan province. Mehdi Babrnejad, 22, was killed by Islamic Republic forces during a protest on September 21, 2022.
– July 9, 2023: Zahra Saeidianjou, the sister of slain street protester Milad Saeidianjou, was detained in Izeh, Khuzestan province, and released on bail a month later. Milad, 26, was killed on November 16, 2022.
“These family members are shouldering profound risks as they seek solace in their grief and endeavor to honor the memory of their loved ones,” Ghaemi said. “This cruelty and lawlessness must not go unanswered. Failing to take action now encourages further abuses.”