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Iran, April 16, 2018

Iranian Activist Marches for Iran's Freedom from Sweden and is Detained Upon Entering his Homeland

Original source

Radio Farda

An Iranian resident of Sweden, Kamran Ghaderi, who started his march for Iran's Freedom about a year ago in Stockholm has been detained after entering his homeland, an unidentified relative told the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Ghaderi began his march on March 21, 2017, in Stockholm, carrying Iran's pre-Islamic Revolution "Lion and Sun" flag. "I am walking to Iran for freedom and carrying the Lion and Sun flag that I intend to install on Cyrus the Great's mausoleum in Pasargadae, south of Iran," Ghaderi, 48, wrote on Twitter at the time.

Citing the relative, CHRI reported on April 10, "In February 2018, after crossing 11 countries, [Ghaderi] was arrested in Iran at the Urmia border near Turkey and charged with propaganda against the state, assembly and collusion against national security, and insulting the supreme leader and officials of the Islamic Republic."

"When he crossed into Iranian soil he was detained by border guards for carrying the Lion and Sun flag and released a few days later," said the source, who spoke to CHRI on the condition of anonymity. "But it seems the Intelligence Ministry caught wind and arrested him on March 7 and sent him to prison in Tabriz [capital of East Azerbaijan Province]."

The relative also maintained, "Kamran told us on the phone that there's a possibility he could be transferred to Tehran, but for now he's in Tabriz."

After the fall of the monarchy in Iran and establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the Lion and Sun flag was replaced with a banner representing dagger-like images of crescent moons, purportedly an image that the Prophet Mohammad drew on the sands of Arabia, with the word "Allah" written in the middle.

"Today, the old flag has become a symbol for some Iranian opposition groups in exile, particularly monarchists seeking the return of the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979)," CHRI reported.

Ghaderi emigrated to Sweden at the age of 15. His wife and two children have Swedish citizenship, but he has never applied for it himself. During his march, Ghaderi posted regularly on Twitter and gave interviews to Persian-language media based outside Iran, including Radio Farda.

CHRI's source says that these interviews have become the basis of an indictment against Ghaderi, who has reportedly been on a hunger strike since March 12.

While on his 8,000-kilometer (roughly 5,000-mile) march, Ghaderi told Radio Farda in October 2017, "My destination is Cyrus' mausoleum, and my demand is holding free elections in Iran."

Responding to Radio Farda's question about the risk of carrying the pre-revolution flag into Iran, Ghaderi said, "If that happens, I will think about it."