These are some faces to put to the number of those arrested for protesting in Iran.
Iranian MP Ali Reza Rahimi stated that the regime has arrested nearly 5,000 protesters who participated in various demonstrations that spanned 100 cities in Iran.
The regime’s track record of dishonesty means that this is not only difficult to confirm, but that many believe the number to be closer to 8,000 people. Though most are thought to have been released, an unknown number remain imprisoned in Tehran, Isfahan, Hamdan, Faris and Ahwaz provinces pending ‘investigation.”
Some of them have died under circumstances that can only be described as suspicious. One young man in particular was able to contact his family before his death and reported that he had been forced to take pills by prison officials.
Authorities have said that a number of prisoners arrested in the protests committed suicide in prison. It’s an old trick from the book of regime tactics to claim that political prisoners kill themselves in jail, but with the recent uprising in Iran, the outrage has been far more public than it might otherwise be.
At least 25 people have been killed during clashes with authorities in the ongoing protests throughout Iran, and the accepted number of those who have died inside prison walls stood at 5, until the recent death of Kavous Seyed-Emami, which brought it to 6.
Kavous Seyed-Emami was an Iranian-Canadian sociology professor, and was arrested on January, 24th of this year. He was 63 years old and the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. (Nine of his colleagues have also been arrested.)
He was accused of using his position as a cover in order to gather information about Iran’s missile program. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve levied insane or bogus accusations at a person they deem to be some sort of threat or enemy, of course.
In recent headlines was a couple who owned an art gallery in Iran, sentenced to lengthy prison terms for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government, and also for drinking wine. They are Karan Vafadari, a U.S. citizen, and Afarin Neyssari, a U.S. permanent resident. One or both were charged for collusion with a foreign government. And drinking wine.
With growing pressure and outrage both from inside Iran, and outside to include the United Nations and various human rights groups, Rouhani has promised an investigation into the ‘alleged’ abuses and killings inside of prisons. It is not likely that any of the victims’ families are comforted at the thought of a corrupt and abusive regime investigating itself, however it is quite a rare move on the part of Rouhani, a man who pats himself on the back for being a ‘reformist’.
(For a regime who considers itself so supremely perfect, what is to reform?)
Doubtless, there will be more attention shown to those who are of a higher profile, among them, human rights activist Atena Daemi who has been in custody since 2014. She is currently waging a hunger strike with at least one other activist who is imprisoned. This abuse is not new, and it is an absolute horror that this regime is allowed to go unchecked in any way for the cruelty and sadism it inflicts daily upon its people.
We can hope that the young people arrested in protests will join the more prominent faces in the media as the world becomes more and more aware of what is happening in Iran, and that as human rights organizations fight to free Atena and find justice for Kavous, that they will be included, too.
Only days ago, three people were hanged in Iran, sentences handed down after the usual kangaroo court over crimes they’d allegedly committed as minors. Iran has vowed not to execute child offenders, and yet their courts continue to hand down and carry out those sentences despite this. Human rights groups continue in the fight to protest this, and gain support from world leaders and the media.
It is almost certain that none of these people killed themselves. Even with the world watching, this is how Iran operates, and it will only feed further protests and unrest in a fervent desire to see the regime topple once and for all.