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Iranian press review: Families of executed dissidents demand burial rights

Meanwhile, former officials criticise rapidly increasing brain drain, and authorities exert more pressure on media ahead elections in March
The mother of executed dissident Mohsen Mazloum (R) receives mourners on the second day of her son's funeral (X)

Government refuses to hand over bodies of executed prisoners

The family members of the four Kurdish leftist dissidents who were executed on 29 January have urged authorities to hand over the bodies of their loved ones, as announced by Iranian rights activists. 

On Monday, a 20-second video went viral on Farsi social media in which the mother of one of the executed political activists, Mohsen Mazloum, demanded authorities let them bury her son's body.

"To bring peace to the family, either hand over my son's body or at least tell me where he is buried," Mazloum's mother said in the video.

Mazloum, along with Mohammad Faramarzi, Wafa Azarbar and Pejman Fatehi, was hanged based on accusations of espionage for Israel.

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Rights activists and families of the four executed dissidents say that they were forced to confess under harsh torture and that their basic rights were violated during the trial process at the Islamic Revolutionary Court. 

Before Mazloum’s mother published the video, his wife, Joanna Taimasi, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the establishment told the families they would bury the prisoners themselves.

Iranian officials have widely used this strategy for the collective punishment of the families of dissidents and political activists, specifically targeting the Kurdish and Baluch ethnic minorities.

Brain drain decried by former ministers

Two former ministers and a vice president, who served in the government of former president Hassan Rouhani between 2013 and 2021, have voiced serious concerns about the rapidly increasing brain drain and the migration of highly educated youth from Iran.

On Monday, former ministers of foreign affairs and culture, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Reza Salehi Amiri, and former vice president Ali Akbar Salehi, during a book launch addressing the crisis, warned that the establishment was losing its human capital due to escalating migration, as reported by the Ham Mihan daily.

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At the event, Zarif, who endeavoured to establish a connection between Iranian talents abroad and the government during his tenure, highlighted the correlation between the lack of hope in society and the increasing rate of migration.

“There is a direct relation between hope for a better future and migration. In 2015 and 2016, we instilled hope in society, and many talents returned to the country. Unfortunately, we ourselves destroyed that hope,” he remarked, referring to the years when Rouhani’s administration pursued a policy of normalisation with western powers.

Due to a lack of access to transparent information in Iran, no data is available about levels of migration from the country. However, a 2022 survey presented at the launch indicated that 60 percent of doctors and nurses desired to migrate from the country due to socio-political issues.

During the event, held amid the 10-day annual ceremonies of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Salehi criticised the establishment for maintaining discriminatory policies, such as the nationality law, which the pre-1979 monarchy had implemented.

“After the revolution, we retained all the detrimental laws and regulations, dismissing the positive ones as monarchist. One of those detrimental laws is the nationality law that only passes through the father in Iran,” he emphasised.

Pressure mounts on journalists ahead of March elections

As the March parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections approach, authorities in Iran have significantly increased pressure on journalists and domestic media critical of the establishment.

On Tuesday, local media reported that Mehdi Afsharnik, an economic journalist, was arrested a week earlier, but news of his arrest was not publicised.

In a separate incident on Monday, security officers raided the Farday-e Eghtesad news site building in Tehran, detaining several journalists at their workplace.

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However, the journalists were allowed to leave the building on Tuesday, and the outlet stopped posting new content on its webpage and social media platforms.

Following this incident, Iran’s judiciary announced that the raid was unrelated to journalistic practices, providing no further details on the reasons behind it.

Meanwhile, the Aftab News website suggested that the raid was linked to Kian Financial Group, the owner of Farday-e Eghtesad.

According to Aftab News, the raid was a result of the political activities of Majid Zamani, a former leading stakeholder at Kian Financial Group, who had sold all his shares in the firm and is now residing outside Iran. 

Zamani was also arrested during the 2009 Green Movement, which saw nationwide protests against the re-election of then principlist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

After leaving Iran, Zamani funded an opposition group called The Government for Iran.

On the website of this group, the main reason for its formation was announced: “The Government for Iran was formed with the aim of creating a platform for the creation of public dialogue and organising the civil participation of the Iranian people to achieve the right to rule over their own destiny.”

* Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified by Middle East Eye

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