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Features

Hengaw Activists Face Threats and Abductions by Islamic Republic

April 8, 2024
Sina Ghanbarpour
4 min read
Just three days after the extension of the mission of the UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding committee, Hengaw issued a statement revealing threats against its members by the Islamic Republic
Just three days after the extension of the mission of the UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding committee, Hengaw issued a statement revealing threats against its members by the Islamic Republic
According to Jila Mostajer, a board member of the organization, in an interview with IranWire, the government's security forces are employing human traffickers to ensnare political and human rights activists beyond Iran's borders
According to Jila Mostajer, a board member of the organization, in an interview with IranWire, the government's security forces are employing human traffickers to ensnare political and human rights activists beyond Iran's borders
The member urged all human rights activists to seek information about the fate of Hossein Bagheri from the consulates of the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire updates about his well-being
The member urged all human rights activists to seek information about the fate of Hossein Bagheri from the consulates of the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire updates about his well-being

The human rights organization Hengaw issued an urgent notice on April 7, revealing that members of the organization are facing life threats from the security institutions of the Islamic Republic.

According to Jila Mostajer, a board member of the organization, in an interview with IranWire, the government's security forces are employing human traffickers to ensnare political and human rights activists beyond Iran's borders.

Meanwhile, Hossein Bagheri, a political activist from Ilam and a member of Hengaw, was compelled to flee the Kurdistan Region of Iraq due to public threats from the Islamic Republic. He has been missing since March 23, with no updates on his whereabouts.

Three days following the extension of the UN fact-finding mission on the suppression of protesters in the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, members of Hengaw faced imminent threats to their lives.

In solidarity, the Human Rights Organization, among 45 Iranian and international rights institutions, urged the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to extend the mission and that of its special rapporteur.

According to a statement from Hengaw, Arslan Yarahamdi and Jila Mostajer, both on the organization's board of directors, were threatened with death along with their families in Iran. The perpetrator, suspected of collaborating with undisclosed entities, vowed to "take domestic and abroad actions against them through Quds forces."

Previously, to exert pressure on Hengaw, security forces arrested the brother of board member Jila Mostajer, releasing him later on heavy bail without specific charges. 

Similarly, the family of Arslan Yarahamdi endured a similar ordeal. Such tactics mirror previous instances where security forces sought to stifle information circulation or political activism.

Similar measures were taken against Baluch political activists, exemplified by the arrest of Abdul Ghaffar Naqshbandi's father, a protesting Baluch cleric who fled Iran in 2022, illustrating the government's efforts to compel his return.

Moreover, last year, security forces detained Sajad Shahrabi, the brother of an IranWire editor, issuing a conditional release.

Human Traffickers and the Disappearance of Human Rights Activists

Just three days after the extension of the mission of the UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding committee, Hengaw issued a statement revealing threats against its members by the Islamic Republic. 

This statement emerged following the disappearance of an active member of the organization, forced to flee the Kurdistan Region of Iraq after threats from the Islamic Republic's security forces.

Hossein Bagheri, vanished two weeks ago while attempting to cross into Turkey from the Kurdistan region's border. 

Those responsible for his transfer have remained silent, raising concerns about his possible abduction.

Bagheri, a political activist from Ilam, had previously been arrested and imprisoned in Iran. 

He actively monitored the situation of political activists during the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, witnessing violent confrontations with security forces.

Jila Mostajer, a board member of Hengaw, disclosed to IranWire the efforts to secure Bagheri's safety. Despite attempts to obtain a human rights visa for his transfer to a safe country, success remains elusive.

Mostajer elaborated on Bagheri's disappearance, revealing the Islamic Republic's intent to return him to Iran for trial. 

Fearing for his safety in the Kurdistan Region, Bagheri sought refuge in Turkey. 

However, the individual responsible for his transfer has provided no information on his whereabouts, offering contradictory accounts.

The Hengaw organization investigated Bagheri's situation among detainees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and found no leads. 

She told IranWire of reports suggesting Bagheri's handover to Iranian agents, likely orchestrated by those responsible for his intended transfer to Turkey and Iraq.

Members of Hengaw have faced further threats, including discussions in Islamic Republic-affiliated Telegram groups on the arrest and execution of Arslan Yarahamdi. 

When questioned about documenting and reporting these threats to international institutions, Mostajer affirmed thorough documentation and reporting to bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and Amnesty International.

Amidst agreements between the Islamic Republic and Kurdistan Region's rulers, concerns mount over the region's transformation into the Islamic Republic's stronghold. 

Recent terror operations resulting in casualties underscore the region's vulnerability, with perpetrators escaping justice in Iran.

Human Traffickers and the Disappearance of Human Rights Activists

Hengaw has escalated its concern regarding the fate of its members due to the precarious routes used by political and human rights activists to seek safety. 

Mostajer highlighted the heightened risks faced by activists from the Woman, Life, Freedom movement as they resort to illegal means to depart Iran for Turkey, amidst the insecurity prevailing in the Kurdistan Region, stemming from agreements between the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi government.

Mostajer explained to IranWire, "Under the guise of extraditing international criminals, the Islamic Republic's agreement with Kurdistan Region's rulers entails the return of human rights activists based in the region to Iran." 

"Additionally, we've observed the invalidation of residency for some leaders of Kurdish political parties, compelling their departure from the region. In such circumstances, seeking refuge with human traffickers and illicit travel to safer destinations becomes the only viable option."

According to this Hengaw board member, certain human traffickers, motivated only by financial gain, collaborate with agents and security forces of the Islamic Republic.

Despite receiving substantial sums for their services, they betray political and human rights activists by delivering them into the hands of Iranian authorities in exchange for monetary rewards or other benefits.

The member urged all human rights activists to seek information about the fate of Hossein Bagheri from the consulates of the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire updates about his well-being.

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