Iranian Baloch activist faces deportation threat in Sweden

An Iranian Baloch human rights activist is at risk of being deported from Sweden to Iran, Iranian human rights organizations warned this week.

According to the Baloch human rights organization Haalvsh, the activist Asma MirBalochzahi, also known as Asma Baloch, grew up in Bam in the Kerman province of Iran.

According to Haalvsh, MirBalochzahi and her family were repeatedly threatened by the regime during the protests that swept Iran after the murder of Mahsa Amini in 2022.

Human rights activists have warned that MirBalochzahi would be in extreme danger if she is deported to Iran.

The Kurdish human rights agency Hengaw noted that MirBalochzahi worked to document human rights violations committed by the Islamic regime in Iran, including the persecution of Baloch fuel smugglers, executions, and arbitrary shooting by regime security forces.

Iranians protest against regime in Zahedan, November 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir)

A petition uploaded to by Ashfaque Ali Baloch urges the Swedish Migration Agency to reconsider its decision.

“During her time in Sweden, Asma MirBalochzahi has faced relentless threats from the Iranian government, putting her life at grave risk. The Swedish Immigration Department’s recent decision to approve her deportation is deeply troubling, as it not only jeopardizes her safety but also contradicts the principles of humanity and the values upheld by the European Union,” warns the petition.

“Asma Baloch’s family in Balochistan is under constant pressure and threat of assassination due to her courageous political and civil activities. It is imperative that we, as advocates for human rights, stand united to prevent her deportation and ensure her safety,” continued the survey. “Deporting Asma to Iran would undoubtedly lead to severe punishments and cruelty, amounting to nothing short of a death sentence.”

Ashfaque Baloch called on supporters to use the hashtag #SwedenStopAsmaDeportation to raise support for MirBalochzahi. Other activists have called for supporters to post the hashtag en-masse on X in a campaign planned for Thursday evening, March 7.

Naela Quadri Baloch, a prominent Baloch, and women’s rights activist, also called for the stop of MirBalochzahi’s deportation.

Persecution of Baloch Iranians

Baloch Iranians were among the most heavily persecuted groups during the protest which erupted in Iran in September 2022 after Amini’s killing at the hands of Tehran’s “morality police.”

The Sistan-Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran, which is majority Baloch, was the scene of a violent crackdown by the regime during the protests.

Zahedan, the capital of the province, was the site of some of the most intense demonstrations against the Islamic regime. In September 2022, about 100 men, women, and children were murdered by Iranian forces while protesting in Zahedan in a massacre referred to as “Bloody Friday.” Since then, protests have taken place often after Friday Prayers, and Iranian security forces frequently maintain a heavy presence in the areas around central mosques in the city.

In February, human rights agencies reported that an Iranian Baloch student was found dead after being arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province.

The student, identified as 19-year-old Sepehr Shirani, was arrested on Tuesday for posting content on social media in support of anti-government protests, according to Haalvsh, a human rights monitor in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province. BBC Persian contacted the family and confirmed that Shirani had been arrested by the IRGC.

According to Haalvsh, Shirani’s family said they were told that he would just be questioned and released. However, on Thursday morning, he was found dead and shot in the head on the roof of his home. The family said that they were unaware of when and how he was released by the IRGC and how he ended up on the roof. His body is being held by regime authorities, and the family is working to get his body released, according to the reports.

Mehdi Shamsabadi, the regime’s prosecutor in Zahedan, denied the reports, saying that Shirani was never arrested and that, based on preliminary information, Shirani committed suicide.

At the time, MirBalochzahi responded to the incident on X, posting: “#Sepehr_Shirani, if you were born in Tehran and you were not Baloch, this fate would not have happened to you. They killed you for the crime of being Baloch. [I am] hoping for a day when being Baloch is no longer a crime.”