They are all the more motivated. Several dozen relatives of Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, two Frenchmen detained in Iran, gathered Sunday at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, two days after Tehran released two other Frenchmen, a "breath of hope" for the families of prisoners. "Freedom for Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris," proclaimed placards bearing the photo of the two Frenchmen arrested a little over a year ago, on May 7, 2022 during a tourist trip to Iran, which accused them of espionage.
Colleagues and relatives of the French teacher and her retired companion followed one another at the microphone and piano, for this concert of solidarity gathering.
The sister of Cécile Kohler, Noémie, evoked "a year of nightmare" for the families but also "the wonderful news" that represented the release Friday of two French, Benjamin Brière and Bernard Phelan, returned to France after three years of detention for the first and more than seven months for the second. "It's a breath of fresh air for all of us, it gives us hope," said Kohler, whose family has only been able to communicate with Kohler four times in one year.
"She's fighting, she's hanging on, even if it's still extremely difficult," she told AFP. His sister, imprisoned like Jacques Paris in Tehran's Evin prison, was able to benefit from only one consular visit in one year. "She had several months in solitary confinement, she is now with fellow inmates. We send her books but she has only received one since the beginning of her detention."
Two other Frenchmen still detained
Élise Romain, a former high school student who had Cécile Kohler as a teacher 9 years ago, wanted to participate in the rally. "I had never seen her, I learned of her arrest from the press. She was a great teacher. She had a decisive impact on my career," explained the young woman.
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In addition to Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, two other Frenchmen are still detained in Iran, a 35-year-old consultant, Louis Arnaud, arrested on September 28 in Tehran, and another whose identity has never been made public. French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in 2019 and sentenced to five years in prison, was released on 10 February but cannot leave Iran.
For months, the France has denounced these arbitrary detentions, speaking of "state hostages". Other European countries and human rights activists accuse Tehran of detaining dozens of foreigners in a blackmail strategy.