A group of clerics, activists, and other prominent figures in Iran’s Kurdish-majority city of Javanrud (January 2023)

A group of clerics, activists, and other prominent figures in Iran’s Kurdish-majority city of Javanrud

Elders, Religious Leaders In Kurdish City Want End To Military Siege

Thursday, 01/05/2023

A group of clerics, activists, and other prominent figures in Iran’s Kurdish-majority city of Javanrud have called on the Islamic Republic to end its military siege aimed at ending protests. 

In a statement read out in a video message, they urged the regime to end “the economic and military siege" of the city, as well as to stop creating the atmosphere of fear and insecurity. 

They also mentioned the situation in the country as evidence of the continuation of the "violent crackdown” on people of the city, calling for ending the repression and releasing people who were arrested during recent protests. 

They criticized the regime’s increasing use of military force in the city that has led to widespread anxiety, and crisis in the city. 

In addition to Javanrud in western Kermanshah province, they also denounced the military atmosphere of other places, especially cities with Kurdish population in western Iran, and Baluchi population in Sistan-Baluchistan province as well as the city of Semirom in the central Esfahan province.

The military checkpoints at the gates of these cities should be removed so that normal life can be restored for the residents of these cities, they added. 

Late in December, security forces attacked the memorial services of some of the protesters that were killed earlier in the city, shooting one more person to death. Since then, clashes have intensified between people and the security forces, most of whom are deployed from other locations to the city of about 50,000 residents. According to local sources, regime agents have stepped up the atmosphere of terror and repression, raiding the homes at night without any court order and arresting people.

Erfan Kakaie, Bahaoddin Veisi, Tahsin Miri, Masoud Teimuri, Jamal Azami, Johar Fatahi and Esmail Gol Anbar were killed by government forces during the bloody protests on November 20 and 21 in Javanrud. The ceremony to mark the fortieth day after their death was supposed to be attended by a large crowd of people last Saturday, December 31. Regime forces fired live rounds and tear gas at the people attending the procession, killing a 22-year-old resident identified as Borhan Eliasi

Iran's Kurdish cities have been at the forefront of the protests that started with the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini from the Kurdish city of Saqqez in mid-September. People in most Kurdish-populated areas in Kordestan, West Azarbaijan and Kermanshah provinces have relentlessly protested and defied government forces since Amini’s death.

The situation is not as tense in other parts of the country, but issuing death sentences as well as long prison terms for detained protesters continues. Pressures on the families of the dead and detained protesters are unrelenting and still there are reports of unexplained deaths of prisoners within a few days after their release. 

Meanwhile, following the finalization of the death sentence of Mohammad-Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini, who are sentenced to death for the alleged murder of a pro-regime Basij member during a protest near Tehran on November 3, the situation at the prison they are being kept in is also tense. 

On Wednesday, two members of the Australian House of Representatives -- Keith Wolahan and Aaron Violi -- called on the Islamic Republic to stop issuing death sentences for people arrested in recent protests. They also offered to take political sponsorship for fifteen imprisoned protestors who are facing the death sentence. “Mohammed Mehdi Karami is only 22 years of age and has just been sentenced to death for protesting,” said Wolahan in a letter to the Charge d'affaires of the Islamic Republic in Australia. 

Amid increasing pressure on detained protestors, the wave of hunger strikes in prisons is on the rise with the detainees’ health in danger. Armita Abbasi, and over a dozen other female prisoners in Kachouie prison of Karaj, west of Tehran, have gone on hunger strike since Monday to protest their indefinite detention, lack of access to lawyers and the danger of harsh verdicts.

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