London: As many as 30 politicians from Europe are sponsoring detainees in Iran in a bid to protect them from persecution by the regime for taking part in widespread protests that have rocked the country.
Two demonstrators have been executed in recent days, with thousands of others potentially facing the death sentence or punitive prison terms.
However, the release of a number of people from jail following pressure from activists and relatives has given hope that the regime could bow to pressure over fears of more unrest and increasing international ostracism.
The European sponsors lobby on behalf of detainees, pressuring Iranian ambassadors, raising awareness about the conditions people are kept in, discussing Iran’s violations of its own laws, and demanding information on the whereabouts and publicizing the plight of their detainees.
Among those known to be sponsors are German Social Democrat Martin Diedenhofen, who has become the sponsor of 19-year-old Mohammad Broghni, who faces the imminent threat of execution; Diedenhofen’s SDP colleague Ye-One Rhie, who is sponsoring rapper Toomaj Salehi; and SDP MP Carmen Wegge, who is sponsoring 20-year-old Armita Abbasi, who was hospitalized on Oct. 18 with injuries consistent with repeated beatings and rape.
The Christian Democratic Union’s former government minister Norbert Rottgen is sponsoring lawyer Mostafa Nili, who has regularly represented Iranian political prisoners.
Austrian Social Democrat Harald Troch is sponsoring Mohammad Hosseini, who is accused of killing a member of the regime’s Basij militia.
Dutch liberal MP Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma is sponsoring radiologist Hamid Qara Hasanlu, who faces the death penalty.
Left-wing French MP Elsa Faucillon is sponsoring another prisoner facing execution, Reza Aria, while French Green MP Sophie Taille-Polian is campaigning on behalf of imprisoned brothers Farhad and Farzad Tahazedeh.
Protests have been nearly constant in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police in September.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested, but the deaths of protesters at the hands of the regime, as well as the start of executions in a bid to cow the population, have led to renewed anger and pressure, with further protests breaking out nationwide.
On Thursday, a 17-year-old woman, Sonia Sharifi, who has been sponsored by Katja Leikert, a German CDU MP, was released in Abdanan and greeted by cheering crowds.
A few days prior, 15-year-old Amir Hossein Rahimi was released after his mother Elham Najaf was interviewed by local media in which she captured public attention when saying she could not afford his bail.
Iranian activists abroad have taken to publicizing individual detainees on social media, again in a bid to stop the regime executing them, on the advice of international human rights organizations.