Iranian intelligence agencies have continued to threaten the family of Mahsa Amini, three weeks after she lost her life following her arrest and beating by the morality police, IranWire can reveal.
Efram Mortezaei, Mahsa’s cousin and a member of the Kurdistan Communist Party, said he had received telephone calls and messages from unidentified numbers, threatening the mourning family not to join the ongoing protests sparked by Mahsa’s death.
He had also been threatened with the "same circumstances as Ruhollah Zam" faced in 2019. Zam, 47, was executed a little more than a year after Iranian intelligence authorities tricked him into travelling to Iraq, where he was abducted.
Zam was convicted of “corruption on earth,” a charge that does not specify a crime but which is sometimes used by the Iranian judiciary to describe alleged attempts to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Zam ran the online opposition news site Amad News, which was accused by Tehran of inciting violence during deadly protests in 2017 and 2018.
In an interview with IranWire, Efram Mortezaei confirmed the threats Mahsa's family has been receiving since her death. "They told me they will kidnap me as soon as I step outside my camp," he said, referring to a camp organized by the party. "And I will face the same thing that happened to Ruhollah Zam."
He has also said that the family is receiving messages, warning them that "it is better" for them not to join the wave of anti-government protests that have continued and intensified in recent weeks.
Mortezaei told IranWire in September that Mahsa's family were under pressure to publicly back the regime’s version of events: namely that she did not die due to head injuries sustained in custody but from complications stemming from a previous brain surgery.
"Since the news of Mahsa's fall into a coma first broke, the Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence department of the IRGC [the Revolutionary Guards] have been pushing this scenario,” he said.
Mortezaei rejected claims that Mahsa was trained by the Kurdistan Communist Party.
“Intelligence and cyberspace bodies claimed I had taken Mahsa outside of Iran, given her security and political training, and then returned her to Iran," he said. “My straightforward answer is that Mahsa had never set foot outside Iran in her 22 years of life. She was a sweet girl who only thought about life, music, travel, and art. Mahsa had no political interests or activities at all."
Iran’s Forensics Organization claimed Friday, meanwhile, that “Mahsa Amini’s death was not caused by blows to the head and vital organs and limbs of the body." Her death was related to “surgery for a brain tumour at the age of eight."
Mahsa's family has repeatedly rejected this claim.
"Lots of girls who were in custody with her phoned me and said they [the security forces] had beaten Mahsa. I am sure about it. My daughter had no [medical] problem. They killed her," Amjad Amini said following Mahsa's death. "I swear to God they killed my daughter."
Footage shared on social media suggested protesters came out in several cities overnight. IranWire is also covering ongoing protests today.
In videos posted on social media, female students in the cities of Rasht, Parand, Islamshahr and Ghaleh Hassan Khan are seen gathering in the streets, removing their hijabs, and chanting “Death to the Dictator.”
The videos show police and paramilitary officers using live fire, tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.
The Council of Sharif University, its main administrative body, issued a statement condemning a raid by security forces on the campus and the beating and arrest of students. The council’s statement indicates that at least 30 to 40 students were detained and many are still missing. Students have planned a new wave of sit-ins and protests for Saturday.
Meanwhile, western governments are punishing Iranian officials for repressing Iranian citizens.
Canada announced a new round of sanctions on Friday. At least 10,000 leaders of the IRGC would be permanently banned from entering Canada, according to a new decree.
"The Iranian regime is a state sponsor of terrorism. It is repressive, theocratic and misogynist. The IRGC leadership are terrorists," Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
"The actions we have taken and are announcing today are some of the strongest measures anywhere against Iran," Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister said.
Earlier, the United States targeted Iran’s Minister of the Interior, Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees the law enforcement forces that have been used to attempt a crackdown on protesters, their families and journalists, and Eisa Zarepour, the Minister of Communications, who they said was “responsible for the shameful attempt to block the internet access of millions of Iranians in the hopes of slowing down the protests.”