Iranian Activists Harassed in Europe, Threats to Life
As Iran and the world marked the anniversary of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died in police custody in September 2022, Iranian activists in Europe are facing harassment and threats to their life.
Iran and its agents have been trying to stifle protests and uprising against the country’s hijab law. It imprisoned thousands of young protesters and executed seven individuals from December to May 2023. Iran has also arrested several foreign nationals and for their involvement in the ongoing protests.
But some Iranian women and activists are defying the Islamic Republic. Activists in Europe have been targeted by cyber attacks, hacking and online harassment. Security agencies in France, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Spain and Switzerland warned the activists that Iran is behind the threats. However, the Iranian government has denied any wrongdoing. Tehran accused the UK and US of interfering in its domestic affairs.
Activists Speak Up Without Fear
Maryam Banihashemi, the head of the Iranian women’s movement in Switzerland, spoke up. She has been targeted on social media for calling for a regime change in Iran. The young woman, who has been living in Switzerland since 2016, claimed to have been stalked. And in June 2023, Maryam received death threats. She said a person, whom she knows works for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, delivered her a message. The activist was told “They intend to assassinate you there”. Maryam was advised by the Swiss police to change her name and address, and hire bodyguards.
Farzane, based in Spain, received a similar threat on a Telegram account – “We are going to look for you in Madrid and we are going to kill you. Just like the rest of your friends were arrested and executed in Iran, you too will be punished.” She has also been followed home from political meetings. But this hasn’t deterred Farzane from continuing to raise her voice against the human rights violations in Iran.
Shadi Amin, an Iranian LGBTQ+ activist in Germany, shared that she was under threat. The German police advised her to check her locks and bolts on the door and also checked her digital devices. The German intelligence agency also issued a public warning about spying attempts by Charming Kitten – an Iran-backed hacker group.
Threats Coming from Iran
Even London’s Metropolitan police said threats are coming from foreign states, one of them being Iran, and this has increased in the past two years. Police in France issued travel warnings to women organizing protests and campaigns against the Iranian government. They said it’s risky and they could potentially be kidnapped.
Iran is believed to be after people who have significant media impact on public opinion. If the regime fails to break through to activists in foreign countries, it targets their family in Iran.