One yr after dissident Ruhollah Zam was executed in Iran after apparently being lured from France, his hanging strikes concern into Iranian opposition exiles over the attain of the Islamic Republic.
Zam, the founding father of a preferred Telegram channel despised by the Iranian authorities for its use in November 2019 protests, was executed on December 12 final yr simply weeks after leaving France, the place he had refugee standing, on a mysterious journey to Iraq.
Colleagues say he was kidnapped in Iraq by Iranian forces, taken over the border, paraded on TV, pressured to participate in a televised “confession”, convicted after which hanged with astonishing pace.
Activists argue that his abduction and killing is a part of a protracted historical past of reprisals carried out by Iran in opposition to opponents residing outdoors its borders, courting again to the primary months after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Buddies of Zam stay baffled how a person described as passionate in his work and dedicated to his daughter selected to make the dangerous journey to Iraq, a rustic with a serious Iranian presence, and need solutions from France over what occurred.
Sepideh Pooraghaiee, an Iranian journalist residing in exile in France who was a buddy of Zam, informed AFP that “many issues are usually not clear. We have no idea something.”
“We demand justice for a journalist who was assassinated and work to maintain his reminiscence intact.”
The United For Zam affiliation of associates and activists set as much as preserve his reminiscence alive mentioned that the French authorities “wanted to clear up any ambiguities” about how Zam was kidnapped in Iraq.
Echoing frustration from activists that human rights are usually not a part of the talks over the Iranian nuclear disaster, they known as on France “to make negotiations with the Islamic Republic conditional on the cessation of killings and brutal repression of political dissidents”.
– ‘Severely rising danger’ –
Campaigners accuse Iran of killing and abducting lots of of opponents in the course of the 4 decade because the royalist authorities of the shah was overthrown.
Among the many most infamous was the knifing to demise of the shah’s final prime minister Shahpour Bakhtiar and his secretary outdoors Paris in August 1991.
An Iranian man, Ali Vakili Rad, was convicted of the killing however in 2010 was paroled by France and returned to Iran the place he was given a hero’s welcome.
The September 1992 killing of 4 Iranian Kurdish activists on the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin resulted in a German arrest warrant for the Iranian intelligence minister and a disaster in relations between Iran and the West.
“The kidnapping and subsequent killing of Ruhollah Zam suits a decades-long sample of intimidation, extrajudicial killings and abductions of dissidents by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s brokers,” mentioned Roya Boroumand, govt director of the US-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Heart.
The Heart has counted greater than 540 Iranians whose profitable assassination or kidnapping have been attributed to Iran, with a peak reached within the Nineties with greater than 397 killed together with 329 in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Boroumand mentioned that there had been a “slackening” of such actions after the worldwide backlash that adopted the Mykonos case.
However a rising variety of circumstances “point out a critically rising danger” for Iranian dissidents overseas.
She linked this to the rising variety of web-based channels primarily based overseas which have had an influence inside Iran –- like Zam’s Amadnews –- particularly throughout occasions such because the 2019 protests.
– ‘Not a traditional life’ –
Zam is much from the one case of worldwide abduction blamed on Iran in latest occasions.
In July 2020, German-Iranian nationwide Jamshid Sharmahd disappeared in Dubai whereas on his method to India. His household say he was kidnapped, taken to Iran through Oman after which placed on trial over a blast in 2008, prices his household forcefully rejects.
“We do not know of his precise whereabouts. We do not know if he’s being saved in humane circumstances,” mentioned his household in a press release, including that they’d been “shocked” when he was paraded on Iranian TV blindfolded and swollen.
In July this yr, US prosecutors charged 4 Iranians in absentia over a plot to kidnap the dissident Masih Alinejad from New York in a speedboat and take her to Tehran’s ally Venezuela.
Alinejad, who has strongly campaigned in opposition to the compulsory hijab in Iran, is now a part of a bipartisan US Senate effort to introduce laws that will sanction these behind such makes an attempt.
Now residing in a protected home after the plot was foiled, Alinejad mentioned: “Even right here in America I don’t have a traditional life. I’m not a felony. My crime is simply to offer a voice to the unvoiced protesters of Iran.”