PARIS: The French government on Friday advised its nationals visiting Iran to “leave the country as soon as possible”, citing the risk of arbitrary detention.
“All French visitors, including dual nationals, are exposed to a high risk of arrest, arbitrary detention and unfair trial,” the foreign ministry said on its website, adding “this risk also concerns people making a simple tourist visit”.
The foreign ministry went on to warn that “in the event of arrest or detention, respect for fundamental rights and the safety of individuals are not guaranteed” in Iran.
The move came the day after Iranian state television broadcast what it said were “confessions” by two French nationals, five months after they were arrested in the Islamic republic.
French teachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris have been detained in Iran since May 7 and stand accused of seeking to stir labour unrest during teachers’ strikes earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Iranians braved bullets and tear gas on Saturday, pressing ahead with protests against clerical rulers facing a relentless popular uprising.
At least two people were killed.
In the city of Sanandaj in the Kurdish-majority northern region, one man was shot dead Saturday while driving a car in a major thoroughfare, rights monitors said. The France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network and the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, said the man was shot after honking at security forces stationed on the street. Honking has become one of the ways activists have been expressing civil disobedience. Video circulating online showed the slain man slumped over the steering wheel, as distraught witnesses shouted for help.
A second protester was killed after security forces fired gunshots to disperse crowds in the city and 10 protesters were wounded, the rights monitors said.
Schoolgirls chanted slogans, workers went on strike and street clashes erupted in Iran, as protests entered a fourth week in defiance of a bloody crackdown.
Anger flared over the death of the 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini on September 16, three days after she was arrested in Tehran by the notorious morality police for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
“Woman, life, freedom,” girls were heard chanting at a school in Amini’s hometown Saqez, in Kurdistan province, where another group of girls were seen swinging headscarves above their heads on a street, in videos the Hengaw rights group said were recorded on Saturday.
Iran had announced on May 11 the arrest of two Europeans “who entered the country with the aim of triggering chaos and destabilising society”.
The release of the alleged confessions comes as Iran grapples with a new wave of women-led protests that erupted on September 16 following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
The 22-year-old Iranian Kurd died after being detained for allegedly breaching the country’s strict rules on how women should dress.
Iran said Friday an investigation into Amini’s death in custody found she lost her life to illness rather than reported beatings that sparked three weeks of bloody protests.
Beside Kohler and Paris, two other French nationals are currently being held in Iran.
One is French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in June 2019 and later sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, allegations her family has strongly denied.
Another French citizen, Benjamin Briere, was arrested in May 2020 and later sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for espionage, charges he rejects.
They are among more than 20 Westerners, most of them dual nationals, being held or prevented from leaving Iran.
Rights groups accuse Tehran of practising a kind of hostage diplomacy with the detainees, using them as a negotiating tool with the outside world, but Iran rejects such accusations.
“The capacity of the French embassy in Tehran to provide consular protection to nationals arrested or detained in Iran is very limited,” the French foreign ministry website warned.
Raisi says students won’t let enemy ‘dreams to come true’
Meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that the country’s students won’t “allow the enemy’s false dreams to come true”, as protests entered their fourth week.
“The enemy thought it could pursue its desires in the university, unaware that our students and professors are awake and will not allow the enemy’s false dreams to come true,” Raisi said, according to a presidency statement.
Raisi’s remarks came as he attended a ceremony marking the beginning of the academic year at Tehran’s Al Zahra, the first all-female university in Iran, founded in 1964.
Academics “will certainly defeat the enemy in the field of science and knowledge as well as in other fields,” he said.