September 16 marks the anniversary of the murder of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini and the beginning of nationwide protests last year, during which nearly 750 protesters were brutally killed by security forces.
Security institutions have already started threatening, summoning, and detaining families who seek justice for their children, demanding that they refrain from attending the gravesites of their lost loved ones on the first anniversary of their murders and not hold any ceremonies.
Imposing this pressure on the families of the victims killed by security forces during the protests last years, is a clear violation of citizens’ public rights, as it constitutes a threat and obstruction to their access to the right to mourn and the dignity of the deceased.
These pressures are not limited to restrictions imposed on holding of ceremonies but have also extended to the prohibition of activities by the bereaved families in the virtual space. The families have even faced life-threatening threats.
In this regard, Mehrshad Shahidi’s father has been warned by security services not to organize any ceremonies at the Arak cemetery or any other location on the eve of his son’s anniversary. He has been told that if he disobeys this order, another member of his family may be lost, for example, in an orchestrated accident.
On Saturday, August 12, Shirin Najafi, the sister of Hadis Najafi who was slain during Iran protests last year, posted on her Instagram page that this would her last story until after Hadis’ anniversary.
Simultaneously, a similar text was also posted on the Instagram page of Ali Rouhi, the father of Hamidreza Rouhi, stating, “This is my last story until Hamidreza’s anniversary.”
Pouya Rouhi, the brother of Hamidreza Rouhi, also implicitly referred to the pressures and the prohibition of activities in the virtual space with the hashtag #AgainstForgetting. He wrote, “I hereby announce that I am unable to continue my activities on this page until my brother’s anniversary.”
Furthermore, the arrest of the father, mother, sister, and all relatives of Abolfazl Adinehzadeh, the slain teenage protester in Mashhad, and the mass detention of 30 individuals from the families in Sanandaj for several days for their presence at the gravesite of the slain protesters in Saqqez and Bukan, have been another part of these pressures.
The government’s measures have not been limited to the justice-seeking families alone. As the anniversary of the nationwide protests approaches and universities reopen, security pressures on students have increased. Student guild councils across the country have reported that at least 12 students from Tarbiat Modares University have been summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence.
The student guild council stated that in recent days, security institutions have contacted some students from Tarbiat Modares University through “anonymous numbers” and asked them to visit the Ministry of Intelligence to provide a “written commitment.”
According to this report, these summonses have often been received from “unidentified security institutions” without stating the reason for summoning the students. In addition to summoning students and previous detainees, there are also reports of the virtualization of university classes in the first ten days of the academic year beginning on September 23, 2023.
Mehdi Golshani, the Director-General of Public Transportation and Urban Districts at the Tehran Municipality, has announced the “virtualization of universities for the first ten days of (the Persian month of) Mehr (beginning on September 23).” He stated that this request was made to “reduce traffic in the capital,” but it has not been confirmed yet. However, citizens believe that the virtualization of university classes and the holding of football matches without spectators are “preventive measures” taken by the government to prevent the formation of protest gatherings.
In a statement in 2020, Amnesty International declared that Iranian authorities were violating Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights by concealing the burial location, preventing mourning ceremonies, and infringing upon the rights of families seeking justice.