According to Iranian pro-reform media, a number of climbers and outdoor athletes have been arrested and imprisoned in the city of Shiraz in south-central Iran amid the ongoing anti-regime protests. A group of five detainees is reportedly accused of conspiring to a bombing plot. The prisoners appear to have been forced to make false confessions, which were broadcast on state television on 13 December. Sources and activists fear that the group could face a sham trial and execution.
Practically? Probably not much, though I'm happy to hear suggestions.
Being aware and caring more than a passing sigh means a lot to Iranians who hear it. There are a lot more of them in Scotland than you may possibly realise. Mainly Edinburgh but a lot in Glasgow too, and some beyond. A bit of solidarity can be a spirit lifter. It isn't exactly installing a Finland style government in Tehran but it's something.
A letter from supporters below. Sharing the news and sending this letter to people/organisations in positions of influence seems to be our best bet. Five German politicians have offered them political sponsorship, but this does not guarantee their release/safety.
'We are reaching out to you, at these trying times in Iran, seeking your support to prevent the execution of innocent protestors; in particular sports persons targeted by the Iranian regime. A statement that supports the following climbers and athletes would provide international support and immunity from harsh sentences for them.
As you might be aware, there are currently 5 Iranian athletes at imminent risk of execution and we urge any and all voices of support - especially yours.
Ever since the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian regime is callously silencing anyone standing up for their rights, either by shedding their blood on the streets or by issuing death penalty sentences to the detainees; all to instill fear in others who are part of the protests.
After arbitrarily executing (an estimated) 78 protestors within the past few weeks, there are currently 28 others who are awaiting similar fates, after forced confessions under harrowing acts of torture, 5 of whom are the following athletes:
- Dena Sheibani and Amir Arsalan Mahdavi, snowboard instructors.
- Hesam Mousavi, bouldering coach, coach of an IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup champion and pro climber
- Mohammed Khiveh, climbing coach.
- Eshraq Najafabadi, cycling coach.
The Iranian regime has released videos of forced confessions of these people, putting them under pressure to claim they were part of a foiled plot to plant a bomb in Shiraz.
Their friends and family are speaking up against these sham trials and forced confessions, warning everyone of these tactics used by the Iranian regime to silence the voice of anyone who sides with protestors.
All these athletes have been denied of their right to legal counsel and fair trial, and have been subjected to severe physical and mental torture.
This is not the first time the Iranian regime has used forced confessions under pressure to execute athletes. Navid Afkari, the world champion wrestler, was also a victim of such sham trials in 2018 - in the same city as these athletes, Shiraz - and he was ruthlessly executed. He was a sporting hero, a national champion, and his life was taken in favour of the regime's agenda of oppression.
This needs to stop NOW, before more lives perish in this vile theatre of the Iranian regime.
We ask you to stand with the athletes and be their voice, whilst they have none.
The louder the international community is, the harder it will be for the Iranian regime to get away with these acts of arbitration with impunity to take more innocent lives.
If you speak up, you won't risk anything, yet you could help to save a life.
Your voice matters.
Time is of the essence and these individuals need urgent action. Please join us, share their story and this message, and lend them your support.
Two of the five arrested Iranian climbers/outdoor athletes accused of the bomb plot in Shiraz have been temporarily released on bail (~£120,000) today - Mohammad Kheiveh and Dena Sheibani - along with two other climbers unrelated to this group: Isa Anwari and Siamak Simkanpur.
The three climbers who were arrested in Shiraz and had not received bail - Ishraq Najaf Abadi, Amir Arsalan Mahdavi and Hesam Mousavi - have now been released from prison. Their case is closed and they have been pardoned.
Jobs Performance Squad coordinator at Westway Climbing
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