Mashallah Karami is the father of Mohammed Mehdi, a young man executed last year. The walls of his bedroom are still adorned with the karate medals and trophies he won.
Before the execution, his father tirelessly advocated for justice, highlighting the numerous inconsistencies surrounding his son's case and sharing their poignant conversations during phone calls from prison: "Dad, the verdict has been rendered. They've sentenced me to death. Keep this information from mum."
Despite his efforts, the support of legal experts, human rights champions and journalists yielded no positive outcome.
According to IranWire sources, security forces executed a raid on Mashallah Karami's residence on August 22.
In the course of this operation, they apprehended him and confiscated his electronic devices, including laptops and mobile phones.
One of Mohammad Mehdi Karmi’s lawyers, Amir Hossein Kohkan, was also taken into custody.
Preventing Victims’ Families from Joining Forces
"These individuals are not arrested solely for being survivors of deceased victims or plaintiffs; instead, they are often charged with other offenses. Authorities establish a connection with these individuals, as one cannot be detained merely as a survivor or a plaintiff in a crime," said Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, a member of the Central Bar Association and a legal practitioner in political and security cases.
"Although the underlying intent behind these arrests, investigations and even trials is evident, the charges frequently brought against these individuals include accusations like spreading falsehoods or propaganda," he added.
Over recent months, security agencies have repeatedly contacted Karmi's relatives, visited their home and threatened them to prevent the father from defending his son's memory and honor, according to Aghasi.
"Yet, a person who has lost his own child has little left to lose, which explains Karmi's unwavering commitment to his cause," he said.
"In recent months, security institutions recognized the growing unity and organization among [the victims’] families, prompting an escalation of these pressures," he added. "I believe that security institutions have intensified these measures to prevent the expansion and strengthening of the organization formed by these petitioning families. The goal is to discourage other survivors and families from joining forces."
Clampdown on Grieving Families
In recent days, a significant number of families seeking justice in Iran have been apprehended by security agencies.
On August 22, Shermin Habibi, the wife of Fereydoun Mahmoudi, who was killed by security forces in Saqqez last year, was also detained. Before that, Mohammad Vaziri, the spouse of Shirin Alizadeh, another victim of the clampdown on the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protest movement, was arrested in Isfahan.
In addition, Hassan Draftadeh, the father of Komaar Droftadeh, was summoned and interrogated, and Reza Babrnejad, the brother of Mehdi Babrnejad, faced arrest.
Two brothers from the city of Kamiyaran who are related to Borhan Karmi, a victim of the crackdown on last year's protests, were also detained by government forces this week. The two brothers are named Hessam and Sirvan Karmi.
Concurrently, there are reports of mounting pressure on the families of plaintiffs aimed at hindering commemorations marking their loved ones' anniversaries.
The father of Mehrshad Shahidi faced pressure from security agencies to refrain from pursuing his son's murder case and decline to invite people to his grave.
As the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death and the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protests approaches, several families of those who perished in these events have taken to social media to announce the suspension of their activities.
Through Instagram stories, Hadis Najafi's sister and Hamidreza Rouhi's father and brother expressed gratitude for the support they received from Iranians "during the past months."
They announced their decisions to halt their activities on their pages during the anniversary and declared their intent to abstain from holding ceremonies at their loved ones' graves.
The language used in these messages indicate that security institutions exerted pressure on their authors.
According to Amnesty International, Iranian authorities have escalated their harassment of families of those "unlawfully" killed by security forces during last year's "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement.
In recent years, particularly after the November 2019 protests, security forces have repeatedly detained families heading to or returning from meetings with other plaintiffs.