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IRAN: Human Rights Abuses Against The Kurdish Minority


          HUMAN RIGHTS

          Amnesty International Publications
          First published in 2008 by
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          © Amnesty International Publications 2008
          Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Original language: English
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          Cover image: The village of Nodeshe, Kordestan, Iran © Private
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against
          the Kurdish minority
          1. Introduction
          Even if dying of hunger or from poverty
          Still I will not serve strangers all my life long,
          I have no fear of chains, ropes, rods, or the prison
          Should they hack me into pieces, should they kill me
          Still I will say: I am a Kurd!'
          Kurds in Iran have long suffered deep-rooted discrimination. Their social, political
          and cultural rights have been repressed, as have their economic aspirations. Kurdish
          regions have been economically neglected, resulting in entrenched poverty. Forced
          evictions and destruction of homes have left Kurds with restricted access to adequate
          housing. 2 Parents are banned from registering their babies with certain Kurdish
          names. The use of the Kurdish language in education is frequently thwarted.
          Religious minorities that are mainly or partially Kurdish are targeted by measures
          designed to stigmatize and isolate them. The discriminatory gozinesh system — a
          selection procedure that requires prospective state officials and employees to
          demonstrate allegiance to Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran — denies Kurds
          equality in employment and political participation. 3
          The Iranian authorities do allow the Kurdish language to be used in certain
          broadcasts and some publications. Expressions of Kurdish culture, such as dress and
          music, are respected. However, when Kurdish rights activists link their human rights
          work — drawing attention to the government's failure to observe international human
          rights standards - to their Kurdish identity they risk further violations of their rights.
          All too often, these brave individuals have found themselves in jail or targeted for
          other abuses.
          Kurdish human rights defenders, community activists and journalists face arbitrary
          arrest and prosecution. Some become prisoners of conscience — people imprisoned
          for the peaceful expression of their conscientiously held beliefs. Others suffer torture,
          grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts and the death penalty.
          1 By Hemin, the pen name for Mohammad Amin Sheikholeslami (1921-1986). He was a well-known Kurdish poet
          from Mahabad, Iranian Kordestan. He fled persecution in Iran to live out his life in exile in Iraqi Kurdistan.
          2 See the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate
          standard of living — mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran (19-31 July 2005), UN reference
          EICN.41200614lAdd.2, 21 March 2006, Summary.
          For a fuller explanation of gozinesh, see International Labour Organization - Amnesty International's concerns
          relevant to the 91 st session of the International Labour Conference, 3 to 19 June 2003 (Al Index: IOR
          42/003/2003); and International Labour Organization - Amnesty International's concerns relevant to the 92' '
          International Labour Conference, Ito 17 June 2004 (Al Index: IOR 42/008/2004).
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          These forms of repression serve to reinforce the marginalization and relative
          economic deprivation of the Kurdish community.
          This report follows other Amnesty International reports on human rights abuses
          against ethnic, religious and cultural minorities in Iran. 4 It details the impact of
          discriminatory practices on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of
          the Kurds. It highlights the double oppression suffered by Kurdish women and girls —
          partly the consequence of attitudes and practices deeply rooted in Kurdish culture,
          partly the result of the government's failure to promote and protect the rights of
          women and Kurds.
          Amnesty International has previously raised many of the concerns and individual
          cases detailed in this report, which addresses developments up to May 2008, with
          the Iranian authorities in correspondence as well as through public statements and
          appeals. However, the Iranian authorities rarely respond to the organisation and
          Amnesty International has not been permitted to visit Iran to assess the human rights
          situation at first hand for more than 28 years, since shortly after the Islamic
          Revolution in February 1979.
          Amnesty International is publishing this report to draw attention to the ongoing
          repression of Kurds in Iran. It is calling on the Iranian authorities to take concrete
          measures to end the discrimination and associated human rights violations, in
          accordance with their obligations under international law. In broad terms, it is calling
          on the Iranian authorities to:
          - take effective measures to ensure that Kurds and all other members of
          minority communities in Iran — men, women and children alike — enjoy their
          full range of human rights;
          - amend or abolish all legislation and practices that discriminate against
          minority communities, including the discriminatory gozinesh criteria governing
          employment and public office;
          - promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders;
          See: Defending Minority Rights — The Ahwazi Arabs (Al Index: MDE 13/056/2006), May 2006; and Iran: Human
          Rights Abuses against the Baluchi Minority(MDE 13/104/2007), September 2007. All Amnesty International
          reports can be accessed at: http://www.amnesty.org/ .
          This report is based on publicly available sources, such as online newspapers in Iran, blogs and news websites;
          exchanges with activists carried out by online messenger or voice over internet protocol services; and face-to-face
          interviews with activists outside Iran. The identities of some of these activists have been withheld for security
          reasons. Place names used in this report are those that are in general usage in Persian in Iran to aid
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 3
          - publicly condemn torture and other ill-treatment and take immediate steps to
          eradicate such abuses;
          - release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience;
          - ensure that all trials respect international fair trial standards;
          - commute all death sentences and order an immediate moratorium on
          2. Background
          Iran's Kurdish community
          An estimated 12 million Kurds live in Iran, between 15-17 per cent of the
          population. They live mainly in the provinces of West Azerbaijan, Kordestan, 6
          Kermanshah and 11am in the west and south-west of the country, although many have
          moved to the big cities such as Tehran. Sanandaj is the administrative centre of
          Kordestan. There is also a community of Kurds in North Khorasan province in north-
          eastern Iran.
          The Kurdish language is divided into two main dialects: Sorani and Kurmanji. Smaller
          communities of Gorani and other Kurdish-dialect speakers are present in Iran. Most
          Kurds are Sunni Muslims, although a minority are Shi'a. Some are Yazidi, a religion
          with pre-Islamic roots, while others are Baha'i, Ahl-e Haq 7 and followers of the Qaderi
          and Naqshbandi schools of Sufism. Iran's official religion is Shi'a Islam, which is
          clearly favoured by the state. 8
          Kordestan, the centre of Kurdish settlement in Iran, is one of the most deprived
          provinces in the country. Its economy is based on agriculture, livestock farming and
          handicrafts, which mainly employ women and girls. 9 As in most other areas of Iran,
          Kordestan's population is young — more than 42 per cent were then under the age of
          15, according to 1998 UNICEF figures.'°
          The effective autonomy of the Kurdish region of Iraq, dating from 1991, through to
          the establishment in 2005 of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq,
          may have fired the aspirations of Kurdish rights activists in Iran to seek an analogous
          6 Also commonly referred to as Kurdistan or Iranian Kurdistan.
          The People of the Truth — also known as Ali Illahis or Yaresan.
          Baluchis, most Kurds, some Persians and Turkmen, all Sunni Muslims, also face religious discrimination.
          UNICEF, The Status of girls and women in Kordestan province in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1377 (1998),
          Table 1 on population distribution.
          10 UNICEF, op cit.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 4
          situation in Iran. It may also have reinforced longstanding fears among Iran's leaders
          that minority communities bordering the same ethnic group in a neighbouring country
          may want to secede from Iran.
          Such fears go some way towards explaining the government's treatment of these
          minorities, although numerous other factors are relevant. Arabs, Azerbaijanis,
          Baluchis and Turkmen, all concentrated in border areas, face discrimination similar
          to that suffered by Kurds.
          About half of Iran's population are believed to belong to ethnic or religious
          minorities.” Despite constitutional guarantees of equality and Iran's international
          legal commitments, discrimination and repression of minority communities, who have
          been demanding greater respect for their cultural and political rights, has intensified
          in recent years, notably since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in
          Kurdish opposition groups
          The oldest Kurdish opposition group is the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).' 2
          In 1946 it established the Republic of Kurdistan, generally called the Mahabad
          Republic, after the site of its capital. It collapsed after 11 months and its leadership
          was arrested, tried and many executed, including around 20 leaders who were hanged
          in public in Mahabad and two smaller cities, Saqez and Boukan. The party was
          swiftly banned.
          It was legalized in 1979 after it played a key role in the revolution. In Kurdish towns,
          power passed to town councils (shoura) led by the KDPI, which also led to the
          takeover of police and army barracks in other Kurdish areas.' 3
          By mid-1979, however, armed conflict broke out between the new government's
          Revolutionary Guards and armed Kurdish groups, particularly the KDPI and the
          Marxist group Komala. The then new Islamic Republic of Iran's first Supreme Leader,
          Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who considered the concept of ethnic minorities
          contrary to Islamic doctrine, ordered that Kurdish opposition be crushed. Scores of
          “ The Iranian authorities do not provide official statistics about the demographic make-up of Iran although there
          are a wide range of estimates based on surveys done in previous years and other demographic projections.
          12 Also called the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDK-I), the organisation was founded in Mahabad on 16
          August 1945.
          13 Ervand Abrahamian, Iran between two revolutions, 1982, p. 527 .
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          Kurdish villages and towns were destroyed and around 10,000 Kurds were killed.' 4
          Thousands of Kurds were sentenced to death after summary trials.
          Soon after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, the Iranian government sent a
          large military force to border areas and regained control of the main Kurdish cities. A
          major offensive in 1984 drove KDPI forces across the border into Iraq.' 5 Throughout
          the war, governments on both sides encouraged separatist activities by Kurdish
          nationalists in the other country, leading to costly political splits and conflicts
          between Kurds.
          In 1991, citing the plight of Iraqi Kurds, the KDPI suspended armed opposition to
          the Iranian authorities. The party now seeks “the attainment of Kurdish national
          rights within a democratic federal republic of Iran” and has long rejected the use of
          violence to further its aims while “supporting the national struggle of Kurds in other
          parts of Kordestan”.' 6 In 2005, the KDPI was accorded consultative status with the
          UN, but towards the end of 2006 the party split. The majority, led by Mustafa Hijri,
          retained the KDPI name.
          In September 2007, the KDPI reported that more than 300 people were in detention
          in Iran either accused or convicted of charges rooted in their support of Kurdish
          political groups. According to the KDPI, at least 200 were serving prison terms of
          between six months and 20 years, including scores of cases about which Amnesty
          International had little or no confirmed information. According to the KDPI for
          example, Jahandar Mohammadi, an NGO activist from Sanandaj was sentenced in
          January 2007 to 15 years' imprisonment for a ‘link to Kurdish political oppositions
          groups'; Simko Ghaderpour, a ‘political detainee' from Bokan was sentenced in
          December 2006 to 11 years' imprisonment on similar grounds; and Mikha'il
          Gholami, an NGO activist from Sanandaj, who was sentenced to three years'
          imprisonment in February 2007.
          Amnesty International believes that scores if not hundreds of political prisoners
          affiliated to the KDPI and other proscribed political parties are serving prison
          sentences, convicted after unfair trials. Others face prosecution for membership of or
          sympathy with the KDPI.
          14 De Bellaigue, Christopher, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs, 2005; p. 60 .
          15 Murder at Mykonos: Anatomy of a Political Assassination,
          16 Taken from “Brief Historical background” issued by the KDPI, undated.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 6
          Several Kurdish political parties are based outside Iran because of such persecution.
          Membership of these banned parties is punishable by imprisonment under security-
          related laws. Some of the groups, including Komala, have reportedly carried out
          armed attacks against the Iranian state. As far as Amnesty International is aware,
          they have not attacked non-military targets nor have they committed human rights
          The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK)' 7 emerged in 2004 and is affiliated to
          the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has, for many years, engaged in armed
          opposition to the government of Turkey. It appears to be the only active armed
          Kurdish opposition group today. It claims to have 3,000 armed members in the
          mountains, nearly half of them women, and thousands of followers, although it
          apparently has little support in the main Kurdish provinces of Kordestan and
          Kermanshah. The Iranian authorities contend that the PJAK is a terrorist organization
          that is sponsored and armed by the US government.
          The US authorities have not designated the PJAK as a Foreign Terrorist Organization
          (FTO) under US law but they have strongly condemned the group's activities and US
          officials are reported to have declined to meet the PJAK's leader when he made a
          private visit to Washington DC in 2007.
          Since 2006, Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been engaged inside Iran in sporadic
          conflict with Kurdish fighters, most of them apparently linked to the PJAK, generally
          in the northern parts of the four provinces bordering Iraq. In February 2007 Kurdish
          fighters reportedly destroyed a Revolutionary Guards' helicopter in Jahannam-Darreh,
          near Khoy in West Azerbaijan, killing nine officers. Revolutionary Guards then
          reportedly launched a series of attacks against Kurds in the mountains near the
          border town of Salmas, killing at least 17 Kurds, thought to be combatants.
          Amnesty International condemns in all circumstances attacks that deliberately target
          civilians, including attacks both by government forces and armed political groups, as
          well as hostage-taking, torture and other-ill-treatment of captives, indiscriminate and
          disproportionate attacks and the killing of captives.
          In 2006 the Kurdish United Front (KU F) was formed to demand peacefully the rights
          they believe are systematically denied to Kurds. KUF founder Bahaeddin Adab said:
          17 Partiya Jiyana AzadIya Kurdistané, or PJAK.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 7
          “Kurdish areas suffer from discrimination and [ official] contempt in all
          political, economic, social and cultural areas of life. Kurds have no share in
          the distribution of power or regarding economic development; the four Kurdish
          provinces of our country are not developed and are deprived. They face
          limitations in their cultural activities, which is preventing cultural
          development” 8
          3. Discrimination against Kurds
          Iran's Constitution provides for equality of all Iranians before the law.' 9 However, this
          is not the reality in practice.
          Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
          (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
          (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and
          the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Iranian authorities are
          required to uphold and promote the rights of people belonging to minorities and take
          steps towards eliminating discrimination. 20
          Among other things, the Iranian authorities are required to take steps towards
          eliminating discrimination against minorities in the realization of economic, social
          and cultural rights — including the right to work that is freely chosen, adequate
          housing, food and water, education, the highest attainable standard of health, and
          equal participation in cultural life.
          Reilgion and culture
          Iran's Kurds, most of whom are Sunni Muslims, face discrimination because of their
          religion, even though Sunni Islam is recognized and accorded formal legal standing in
          Iran. The religious institutions of Sunni Kurds are generally blocked, while those of
          18 From an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), 3 January 2006; see
          http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1064384. html
          19 Articles 3(14) and 19.
          20 For example, Article 26 of the ICCPR requires states to uphold equal protection of the law and non-
          discrimination in the exercise of human rights. The Human Rights committee, which monitors compliance with
          the ICCPR, has clarified that this extends to all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.
          Article 27 of the ICCPR states that: “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist,
          persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their
          group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.” Other
          provisions include Article 30 of the convention on the Rights of the child; Article 2.1 of the Declaration on the
          Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, adopted by the UN General
          Assembly in 1992.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 8
          Shi'as are encouraged and supported by the state. There is not a single Sunni
          mosque in Tehran and, according to reports; the government has restricted the
          expansion of Sunni mosques that exist elsewhere in the country.
          The discriminatory attitude towards Sunnis extends to children's education — UNICEF
          found as long ago as 1998 that the only two rural secondary schools in Kordestan
          were located in the Shi'a towns of Ghorveh and Bijar.
          Sunni Kurdish clerics have, on occasion, suffered human rights violations. In January
          2008, for example, a cleric, Ayoub Ganji, went missing for 13 days after delivering a
          Friday prayer sermon at the Qoba Mosque in Sanandaj. Protesters reportedly gathered
          near state buildings following his enforced disappearance and said there would be
          more demonstrations unless news of the cleric was made known. On 8 February
          Ayoub Ganji was released from detention, reportedly suffering what appeared to be
          the effects of extreme trauma, including failure to recognize his wife and son, and
          crying out as if he was being harmed.
          Other religious groups include the mainly Kurdish Ahl-e Haq, most of whose members
          live in Kermanshah and in or around the big cities. Their faith, which shares aspects
          of Islam's tenets, embodies Kurdish religious identity. The Ahl-e Haq are not
          recognized under Iranian law and their rituals are prohibited. They are also banned
          from discussing their faith with the media.
          In recent years senior state officials have required school heads to report whether
          there are any members of “subversive sects” (feragh-e zalleh) among staff or students
          and reminded the heads that “any activity and propaganda is forbidden” by members
          of these groups (see Appendices I and II).
          In October 2007, for instance, the authorities in Kermanshah wrote to district
          “Following instructions issued by the Ministry of Interior.., regarding the
          activities of the Ahl-e Hag in respect to the construction of their Assembly
          Houses [ you are reminded that] these establishments have no legal or
          canonical basis, therefore please refrain from any correspondence and
          communication with any public authority concerning them and from issuing
          any permission that they should be built...” (see Appendix Ill for full
          Irrespective of their religion, Kurds are not allowed to give their children certain
          names, including for boys Soran (the name of the language), Khabat (struggle),
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 9
          Rizgar (Free) and Ala (flag); and for girls Ajin (equal) and Fermisk (tear). Every
          registry office has a list of permitted names; a birth certificate is not issued unless
          the family consents to using an authorized name.
          Iran's international obligations require that the country's “... religious or linguistic
          minorities.., enjoy their own culture [ and have the right] to profess and practice their
          own religion..
          The practice of gozinesh has been used to marginalize Kurds and others and to
          expressly deny them employment in the state sector, though in practice, in parts of
          the private sector as well. In law and practice, the process impairs equality of
          opportunity and treatment in employment for all those who seek jobs in the public
          and parastatal sectors (such as the bonyads or foundations) and, reportedly, in parts
          of the private sector. 22 Gozinesh is used to select successful candidates for any state
          sector job, whether as a teacher, factory employee, shop worker or parliamentary
          candidate. The state is by far the main employer in Iran.
          Kurdish activists say the government has neglected Kurdish areas, impeding
          employment opportunities. For instance, activists say de-mining programmes in
          Kurdish areas affected by the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war have been slow, hampering
          the development of agriculture and industry.
          Kurds have faced decades of challenges related to housing — ranging from the
          destruction of Kurdish villages during the Iran-Iraq war, to the more recent problems
          of state neglect and forced eviction. 23
          Reporting on his July-August 2005 visit to Iran, the UN Special Rapporteur on
          adequate housing 24 stated that the living conditions for Kurds in Kermanshah were
          extremely unsatisfactory. He added:
          21 Article 27 of the ICCPR.
          22 For further information about discriminatory gozinesh procedures, please see Amnesty International's concerns
          relevant to the 91 st International Labour Conference (Al Index: IOR 42/003/2003).
          23 Reza Afshari, Human Rights in Iran: the abuse of cultural relativism, 2001; citing Human Rights Watch/Middle
          East, Iran: Religious and Ethnic Minorities, Discrimination in Law and Practice, September 1997, p. 25 .
          24 Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 10
          “Testimonies received about the housing situation in I/am province, with a
          large Kurdish population, were equally disturbing and indicated that post-war
          reconstruction efforts had been disproportionally slow and insufficient in this
          area.” 25
          The Special Rapporteur drew attention to the disproportionately poor housing and
          living conditions of minority communities, noting the discriminatory nature and
          impact of forced evictions and expropriation of rural land for large-scale agricultural
          plantations or petrochemical plants. The Special Rapporteur stated:
          “Elm some regions, these expropriations seem to have targeted
          disproportionately property and land of religious and ethnic minorities...
          [ including] . . . houses... The expropriations are considered a form of land
          confiscation by the affected population, particularly since prices paid in return
          for land are considerably lower than market values.” 26
          He was “disturbed by the fact that... exceptions [ in the provision of basic services]
          seemed to disproportionately affect predominantly minority neighbourhoods and
          provinces, clearly constituting discrimination” 27 and noted that “the marginalization
          of these communities has fed civil unrest, leading to clashes with security forces,
          escalating violence and an atmosphere of anger and mistrust.”
          The Special Rapporteur called on the Iranian authorities to end forced evictions, and
          to allocate adequate resources to historically marginalized provinces in order to assist
          the realization of the right to adequate housing as well as improve access to water,
          sanitation and other essential services. 28
          Under international standards, everyone has the right to “an adequate standard of
          living.., including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous
          improvement of living conditions” and the state is required to use “all appropriate
          means” to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing.” 29
          25 Kothari, Miloon, Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an
          adequate standard of living — mission to the Islamic Republic (19-31 July 2005), UN reference
          EICN.412006141Add.2, 21 March 2006, Summary.
          26 Ibid, para.43.
          27 Ibid, para.51.
          28 Ibid, paras 103-105.
          29 The latter part of this is set out in Article 2.1 of the ICESCR, the former is Article 11.1.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 11
          The Iranian government did not reply to the Special Rapporteur's report or
          recom mendations.
          Iran's Constitution states that the official language and script of Iran is Persian, 3 ° and
          that official documents and text books must be in this language. Despite this, the use
          of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching
          regional and tribal literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.
          However, no permanent measures have been introduced in Iran's education system to
          facilitate teaching in minority languages, nor to teach such languages as a second
          language — even though such provisions are included in Iran's Constitution and
          international standards. 31
          According to the Ministry of Education, state schooling is free and compulsory at the
          primary and middle (“guidance”) stages 32 and teaching is carried out in Persian at all
          levels. In bilingual regions, a one-month course is held to teach key concepts,
          including Persian, to beginners, before the school year starts.” 33
          ° Article 15.
          31 Article 15 of Iran's constitution states, “The official language and script of Iran, the lingua franca of its people,
          is Persian. Official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as text books, must be in this language and
          script. However, the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of
          their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian”. According to Article 29.2 of the convention on the
          Rights of the Child, Article 18 of the ICCPR, Article 13.3 of the ICESCR and Article Sb of the UNE5CO
          Convention against Discrimination in Education, individuals (including members of minorities) have the right to
          establish and direct educational institutions, provided that they conform to the minimum educational standards
          laid down by the state. Likewise, parents have a right to ensure the education of their children in accordance with
          their religious and philosophical convictions, which includes the right to choose for their children institutions
          other than those established and maintained by the public authority. While the state provides education in the
          state's official language(s) for the majority population, members of minorities have a right to establish and
          maintain schools where education is provided in their own language.
          32 Primary school is known as dabestan, covering the ages of 6/7-10/11; “Guidance” or Rah-nama'i is between
          12/13-13/14. Secondary education, dabirestan, covering the ages of 14/15-17/18, is not compulsory.
          See uNESCO-International Bureau of Education, World Data on Education 2006/7 (based on official reports of
          UNESCO member states), http:llwww. ibe.unesco.org/countries/WDE/2006/index.html . Amnesty International
          recognizes that international provisions on linguistic rights in education are weak. The European Court of Human
          Rights ruled that the state is to “provide for the possibility of pluralism in education”. This provides for the right
          to establish educational institutions teaching in a manner that upholds minority culture and language, provided
          that all schools meet minimum standards of quality.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 12
          Primary Education: weekly lesson timetable
          Number of weekly periods in each grade
          The Holy Qoran
          com position
          Persian reading
          Social studies
          Science and
          Total weekly
          Source: Ministry of Education, 2003. Each teaching period lasts 45 minutes in Grades I-Il and 50
          minutes in Grades lll-IV.
          Lower secondary education: weekly lesson timetable
          Number of weekly periods in each grade
          Persian literature
          Religious teaching
          Arabic language
          Social studies
          Introduction to
          techniques and
          Foreign Language
          Defence preparation
          The Holy Qoran
          Physical education
          ‘Fostering affairs'
          Compensatory courses
          Total weekly period
          Source: Ministry of Education, 2003. Each teaching period lasts 50 minutes.
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 13
          None of the non-profit-making private schools, which have been allowed since 1988
          and are under the supervision of the Education Ministry, is known to have taught in
          Kurdish for any lasting period. 34
          In February 2008 human rights activists told Amnesty International that in the
          preceding month at least three directors of pre-school childcare facilities in
          Kordestan province had been summoned to the security adviser's office of the
          regional governorate on grounds that they had permitted the teaching of “a non-
          national language”. A non-governmental organ isation, Soma, which had used Kurdish
          for three years in pre-schools it operated in Sanandaj and Mahabad, was reportedly
          closed by the authorities in late 2007 or early 2008, along with its facilities. Others
          were threatened that their licences would be revoked.
          Kurds have staged many campaigns related to their education. On 20 February 2007,
          for example, Kurdish students held an event at Tehran University's Department of
          Literature, during which they called for the teaching of Kurdish in Iran's education
          system, including at the University of Sanandaj. 35 The event closed with a statement
          which declared, in part, “As everyone knows, language is one of the most
          fundamental aspects of a nation's being. Language conveys thoughts, culture and
          [ ...]. In today's multicultural climate in the world, based on the Universal Declaration
          of Human Rights and other humanitarian principles, every nation should have a right
          to develop and advance its language. Everyone agrees that every language could play
          a part in the process of human civilization.” This event, too, resulted in some of the
          organisers and participants being arrested and subjected to long term detention.
          Amnesty International believes that state authorities should take positive measures so
          that, wherever possible, members of minority communities have adequate
          opportunities to learn their mother tongue or to have instruction in their mother
          tongue, as well as to learn the official language; and to encourage knowledge of the
          language and culture of the minorities in their territory. 36
          Iran: Ethnic minorities facing new wave of human rights violations (Al Index: MDE 13/020/2007, News Service
          No. 039, 26 February 2007.
          36 Article 4.3 and 4.4, Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and
          Linguistic Minorities, adopted by General Assembly resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          4. Double oppression: Kurdish women and girls
          Diba Alikhani, a human rights defender, left her office for the courthouse at Azadi
          Square in Sanandaj in mid-2006. As she neared the courthouse she saw a woman
          being escorted by a female jailer. A man suddenly appeared, pulled out a knife and
          slit the woman's throat. Diba Alikhani ran to the scene beseeching the two armed
          guards outside the courthouse to help. The armed guards simply threw coins on the
          dead woman's body — pennies intended to atone for the sin. 37
          The woman had been accused of having had sexual relations outside marriage. In the
          face of this tragic “honour” crime, Diba Alikhani felt powerless and unable to take
          action. The authorities failed to arrest and prosecute the perpetrator of the murder.
          Kurdish women face a double challenge to establish their rights: as
          Kurds living in a marginalised community and as women in a
          community governed largely by patriarchal customs. In both cases,
          they are subject to discriminatory laws. An often quoted phrase
          among Iran's women human rights defenders in Kurdish areas i5:
          “We are both women and Kurds; so, in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
          DibaAlikhani we are doubly accused”. 38 The UN Special Rapporteur on violence
          © Private against women 39 , who visited Iran in January-February 2005,
          concluded that women from Iran's minorities experience multiple forms of
          discrimination 40
          Even though women and girls form the backbone of economic activity in Kurdish
          areas, they do not enjoy a status commensurate with their contribution:
          “The man decides whether or not his daughter, sister, or spouse attends
          school, goes to work or any other place for that matter. For this reason, the
          literacy rate of Kurdish women and girls, particularly in rural areas, is either
          called kaffareh, or paying atonement, the casting of coins on a dead body is often done by those who see the
          body, especially in a public place.
          38 “Ma ham zan hastim, ham Kord, pas dar Jomhouri EsIami Iran do etteham darim.”
          The full name of this mandate is 5pecial Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.
          The mandate holder was, at the time of the mission to Iran, Yakin ErtOrk.
          ° 5ee her January 2006 report, UN document E/cN.4/2006/61/Add.3. In para.32 she adds: “violence against
          women in Iran is ingrained in gender inequality, which is upheld and perpetuated by two factors: (a) patriarchal
          values and attitudes based on notions of male supremacy, and (b) a 5tate-promoted institutional structure based
          on gender-biased, hard-line interpretations of Islamic principles. While the former is a universal and historically
          rooted phenomenon, the latter is particular to Iran and is rooted in gender politics and policies prevalent in the
          country. Both factors, however, represent a male-dominated society with male-empowering laws and practices.
          Amnesty International July 2008
          Al Index: MOE 1 3/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 15
          the lowest or one of the lowest in the country. For these same reasons,
          healthcare indices such as neonatal mortality and morbidity and maternal
          peripartum mortality rates are very high, and poverty, although epidemic (sic)
          among lower class immigrants and rural inhabitants in Kurdestan, is even
          more so a female affliction.” 4 '
          Strict social codes, invoked in the name of tradition and religion, are used to justify
          the denial of the human rights of women. The codes have created social no-go areas
          in parts of Kurdish society that hinder outsiders, including Iranian state officials,
          from dealing effectively with girls' education, early and forced marriages, domestic
          violence against Kurdish girls and women, suicide by self-immolation, and “honour”
          In Iran, as throughout the world, women are victims of violence on a daily basis and
          face discrimination in society at large as well as by state officials. Perpetrators may
          be state officials, members of groups or private individuals — including family
          The extent and prevalence of violence against women in the Kurdish regions of Iran is
          impossible to quantify — not least because international and national organizations do
          not have effective access to all Kurdish areas. It is clear, however, that discrimination
          and violence against women and girls in the Kurdish regions is both pervasive and
          widely tolerated.
          To escape the violence and abuse, some Kurdish girls and women resort to a most
          extreme form of self-harm, setting themselves on fire.
          Iran's justice system provides little or no remedy to the obstacles and violence facing
          women and girls. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women noted:
          “Discriminatory laws in both the Civil and Penal Codes in Iran play a major
          role in empowering men and aggravating women's vulnerability to violence. In
          particular, discriminatory provisions in the Civil Code relating to the areas of
          marriage, child custody, freedom of movement and inheritance may lead to,
          perpetuate or legitimize violence against women perpetrated by private actors.
          The provisions of the Penal Code relating to crimes specified in the sharia,
          41 UNICEF, The status of girls and women in Kurdestan province in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1377 (1998).
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 16
          namely, hudud, qisas and diyah, are of particular relevance in terms of gender
          justice.” 42
          As a result, police and judicial officials are often unwilling to arrest and prosecute
          perpetrators of violence against women in Kurdish areas. Even if an arrest is made,
          police frequently fail to investigate or press charges against suspected perpetrators.
          Women are not encouraged to bring complaints against their attackers and fear
          bringing “dishonour” on the family as well as reprisals from the attacker and
          For example, Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek), an Iranian Kurd, was
          sentenced to execution by stoning for adultery by a court in Oromieh in June 2006.
          Her brothers and husband reportedly murdered a man they found in her house, and
          she too was nearly killed when they stabbed her. In November 2006, it was reported
          that the Supreme Court had rejected the sentence of stoning and ordered a retrial,
          citing incomplete investigations in the case. It is believed that Shamameh Ghorbani
          confessed to adultery in court, believing that this would protect her brothers and
          husband from prosecution for murder. Under Iranian law, a murder may not be
          punished if committed defending one's honour or that of relatives. In a letter to
          Branch 12 of the Criminal Court, Shamameh Ghorbani is reported to have said,
          “Since I am a rural, illiterate woman and I didn't know the law, I thought that if I
          confessed to a relationship with the dead man, I could clear my brothers and
          husband of intentional murder. I said these untrue words in court and then
          understood I had done myself an injury.” 43
          The authorities seldom even investigate complaints of rape, murder or suicide of
          women. Women who report rape face being locked up and accused of having
          committed crimes of zena. 44 In the rare cases in which alleged perpetrators of rape
          are prosecuted, they are often acquitted or given disproportionately lenient sentences
          that fail to reflect the gravity of the crime. In short, impunity prevails for perpetrators
          of violence against women.
          42 Para. 44 in the report on the Special Rapporteur's January-February 2005 Mission to Iran, UN document
          E/CN .4/2006/6 1/Add .3.
          This case is also featured in Iran: End executions by stoning, January 2008 (Al Index MDE 13/001/2008).
          “ Zena, or zina, is adultery. It is defined in the Penal Code as intercourse between a man and a woman whose
          intercourse is inherently forbidden, or haram, other than in those cases where the person has had a doubt. See
          Iran: End executions bystoning(AI Index: MDE 13/001/2008).
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 17
          Under the ICCPR, the Iranian authorities are required to “undertake to ensure the
          equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set
          forth in the present Covenant”. The principle of equality between the sexes, and
          particularly the requirement to eradicate all forms of violence against women, is a
          basic premise of international human rights law. The existence of traditional,
          customary, religious or social norms should not be invoked by states to avoid
          complying with this obligation. 45
          The Iranian authorities are also obliged to exercise due diligence in eradicating
          violence against women in the home and in the community. The authorities must
          ensure that Iran has laws, policies and plans which recognise these rights and which
          can be used in practice to enable women to access their rights, to protect women
          from abuses and to ensure that those whose rights are violated receive appropriate
          redress and reparation.
          The first UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy,
          “States must promote and protect the human rights of women and exercise
          due diligence:
          (a) To prevent, investigate and punish acts of all forms of VA W [ violence
          against women] whether in the home, the workplace, the community or
          society, in custody or in situations of armed conflict;
          (b) To take all measures to empower women and strengthen their economic
          independence and to protect and promote the full enjoyment of all rights and
          fundamental freedoms;
          (c) To condemn VAWand not invoke customs, traditions or practice in the
          name of religion or culture to avoid their obligations to eliminate such
          (d) To intensify efforts to develop and/or utilize legislative, educational,
          social and other measures aimed at the prevention of violence, including the
          dissemination of information, legal literacy, campaigns and the training of
          legal, judicial and health personnel. “46
          See Making Rights A Reality: the duty of states to address violence against women (Al Index: ACT
          46 Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Report to the Commission on Human
          Rights, UN Doc. EICN.412003/75, 6 January 2003, para. 85.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 18
          Amnesty International recognizes that the Iranian authorities, like other governments,
          face difficulties when confronted by practices rooted in culture and belief that
          legitimize violations of women's human rights. However, Amnesty International
          considers that the Iranian government has not taken sufficient steps to eliminate
          discrimination, end the cycle of violence against women and punish perpetrators,
          whether they be family members or state officials.
          The police and judiciary are openly biased against women and the violations they
          suffer. The government must take action to stop such bias, including by instructing
          officials in their duty to ensure protection of the human rights of women and by
          providing training in non-discrimination. Further, they must ensure that all state
          authorities act with due diligence to prosecute those who commit violence against
          women, and implement specific measures to protect women and girls.
          Many countries have adopted measures to combat inequality and discrimination, and
          to protect women against violence, understanding the links between the two. While
          complete eradication of violence against women may seem unachievable, states are
          obliged to take concrete and effective steps that advance the protection of women
          and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and that victims receive
          reparation. Legislative steps must be backed by effective measures that address the
          underlying causes of violence, including cultural, social and customary practices.
          The need to combat violence against women is gaining recognition in Iran, and
          networks of women human rights defenders are advancing a women's rights agenda.
          This agenda should be supported by the authorities.
          Schooling and literacy
          Cultural norms in the Kurdish community which facilitate the practice of forced and
          early marriage perpetuate the fear of violence amongst Kurdish girls in school,
          impacting adversely on Kurdish girls' education. These norms do not, however,
          excuse the failure by the Iranian state to provide proper facilities for the education of
          Kurdish girls. 47
          Article 3 of the ICCPR has been interpreted by the Human Rights Commission as including an obligation on
          states to exercise due diligence. See Human Rights Committee General Comment 28 on Article 3, and Human
          Rights Committee Draft General Comment on Article 2.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 19
          Fi ur'e 1 ,15: Adult literacy, hr euider and province and rural/urban residence 19s8—2Dt:o
          l x i-
          On J _
          1 nale rural
          EE4IIETT ‘a
          50 ' — •. OEt ar4
          Female BaLich&art
          40 —— i 1 I I 1 I . I
          ‘9!6 is& i; : 9 1 O 1993 1 94 129 6 1997 1996 i9&9 2 1C C
          Sa a• ;: YHDR 1999. Mimnv cfEcitcat:on 1999.. D:-IS .2C03
          Taken from: Iran: UN Common Country Assessment Report -2003; page 33 (See:
          htty://www. und g.ork/archive docs/3370-lran CCA.vdf )
          Article 30 of Iran's Constitution provides for free education for all citizens up to
          secondary school. According to Iranian government figures, over 90 per cent of
          children aged 6-10 have access to primary education 48 and the literacy rate is
          reported to be as high as 97 per cent. 49 However, 1998 UNICEF figures indicate
          serious shortcomings in the provision of education for Kurdish girls and women — 57
          per cent of women compared to 79 per cent of men were literate. 50 In urban areas of
          Kordestan, 68 per cent of women were literate compared to 85 per cent of men; in
          rural areas the figures were 46 per cent and 71 per cent. 51 The differences appear
          early. In the 1996-97 school year, 56.5 per cent of all primary school pupils were
          boys while only 43.5 per cent were girls. The gender education gap then widens at
          every higher level of education. Moreover, according to the UN's Common Country
          Assessment Report for 2003, the overall literacy rates for the 15-24 age group in
          48 This is welcomed by the committee on the Rights of the child. 5ee para.3 of UN document cRc/c/15/Add.254,
          31 March 2005, entitled consideration of reports submitted by 5tates Parties - concluding observations: The
          Islamic Republic of Iran ,
          ‘ “Shorn of dignity and equality: Special report on women in Iran”, The Economist, 18 October 2003.
          ° UNICEF, op cit.
          ‘ UNICEF, op cit.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MOE 1 3/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 20
          Kordestan is significantly below the national average (see table), with rates in Sistan
          and Baluchistan province the worst in the country. 52
          In 2005, when reviewing Iran's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the
          Child, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern:
          “... about the disparity that continues to exist between boys and girls; the high
          dropout rates of girls in rural schools upon reaching puberty; the lack of
          female teachers in rural areas; long distances between homes and schools,
          which keep girls at home, particularly after primary school and the lack of
          mobile schools for nomadic children, as well as the remarkable differences in
          the personal and material equipment between schools in urban and rural areas
          and between the most and least developed provinces, resulting in unequal
          educational opportunities.” 53
          The government of Iran must take concrete steps to address disparities in the
          realization of the right to education between boys and girls. In particular, the
          minimum school leaving age should match the minimum age of employment or 15 by
          requiring the completion of the Middle (Guidance” or Rah-nama'i) cycle and however
          many years in secondary school are possible prior to the child reaching his or her
          sixteenth year. This would meet the standards required by ILO Convention 138 on the
          Minimum Age of Employment, which Iran has not yet ratified.
          The government should address other factors that lead to high drop-out rates among
          Kurdish girls. Such factors include the expectation that primary school girls will work
          to earn money, particularly in carpet weaving or farming; that they should not attend
          schools that employ male teachers once they have reached puberty; and that they
          may be forced to marry.
          Early and forced marriage
          Forced marriage at a young age remains common for Kurdish girls in Iran. In fact, the
          practice appears to have become more common in recent years because of growing
          poverty — families believe that such marriages offer the most secure future for their
          52 UN Common Country Assessment for Iran, op cit.
          See Consideration of reports submitted by States Parties - Concluding observations: The Islamic Republic of
          Iran, UN document CRCICI15IAdd.254, 31 March 2005
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 2]
          In contrast to an arranged marriage, which does not involve compulsion, a forced
          marriage is any marriage conducted without the free and knowing consent of both
          parties. It may involve coercion, mental abuse, emotional pressure, and intense
          family or social pressure. In the most extreme cases, it may also involve physical
          violence, sexual abuse, abduction, detention and even murder.
          Iranian law sanctions marriage for girls as young as 13 (it was nine until recently) and
          boys as young as 15. Marriages may be contracted for children under these ages with
          the consent of the parents. All girls and women must have the consent of the father
          (or, in his absence, the paternal grandfather) to enter into a marriage contract. 54
          Forced marriage is prohibited by international law, including Article 23(3) of the
          ICCPR which provides that, “No marriage shall be entered into without the free and
          full consent of the intending spouses.”
          Forced marriage is a form of violence against women carried out by family members.
          It is linked to child marriage, which may constitute forced marriage. Child marriage
          violates the right of children to freedom from sexual exploitation, as provided in
          Articles 19 and 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. By marrying at an
          early age, children are further denied their rights to education and health and,
          crucially, the freedom to determine the course that they wish their lives to take.
          Forced marriage also appears to be a major reason for self-immolation (see below).
          UNICEF's 1998 report found extremely high rates of forced marriage, including at an
          early age, in Kordestan, although it noted that the practice appeared to be declining.
          Circumstances facilitating forced marriage cited by respondents to UNICEF's
          researchers included lack of knowledge (on account of the young age at the time of
          marriage); threat of a beating by parents if the subject was raised by children; the
          attractiveness of the proposed husband's wealth and better living conditions; and the
          prospect of a good dowry and/or payment of shirbaha (bride price), or the money
          accruing to the parents of the bride.
          UNICEF also noted that divorce rates were particularly high in Kordestan, citing as
          possible explanations the failure of the woman to bear children, incompatibility, drug
          addiction by husband, neglect of wife and children, wife beating, poverty or
          homelessness, illness and the age gap.
          See Civil Code Article 1041.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          The Iranian government should take legislative and other steps to ensure that all
          marriages are entered into on the basis of the full and informed consent of both
          intended spouses. This requires at a minimum that a minimum age of marriage be
          set and enforced. This age should protect the best interests of the child and should
          be higher than the minimum age for entry into the labour force and in respect to the
          completion of compulsory education, which is the end of the Middle, Guidance or
          rah-nama'i cycle of school completing education in addition to however many years of
          secondary school are possible prior to reaching a child's sixteenth year.
          Suicide and ‘honour' killings
          Inequality, discrimination and the various forms of violence and social deprivation
          suffered by Kurdish women contribute to complex social problems, including high
          rates of suicide, notably by self-immolation. Self-immolation is a practice that occurs
          in all the areas of Kurdish settlement, where it is more common than in other parts of
          Iran. Some alleged suicides may have been staged to cover up “honour” killings. 55
          International human rights law views “honour” crimes as a form of violence against
          women in the family or community. These crimes violate, among other rights, the
          right to life and security of the person; to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman
          and degrading treatment; and the rights to equality before the law and to equal
          protection from the law. They also deprive women of rights assured by the UN
          Women's Convention, for example the rights to choose a marriage partner, to enter
          into marriage freely, to enjoy freedom from discrimination, and to be treated as a
          human being with dignity and equal rights to men.
          The apparent increase in the incidence of women and girls attempting to and taking
          their own life by self-immolation is a result of many, complex factors. Amongst those
          cited by the authors referred to in this section are divorce and polygamy. 56
          Anecdotal evidence suggests that some of the women do not want to die but have no
          other way of showing their distress. Many had either suffered violence by family
          members or did not consent to a marriage. The majority of those who survived were
          Partly as a result of this, there are no reliable statistics for the number of “honour” killings in Kurdish areas in
          56 In the 2005 study Epidemiology of self-immolation in the north-west of Iran, by S Dastgiri, LR Kalankesh and N
          Pourafkary, the authors note, “In our study self-immolation incidence rate has increased in 2003 compared to
          1998. Some previous studies have shown that incidence of self-immolation has risen by 30-40 percent in
          Kermanshah and 11am provinces of Iran over the past few years.” See:
          www.eigm.org/eigm05 1/2005 1 4 Dastgiri.rjdf .
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 23
          forced to change their stories when in hospital, once surrounded by family members,
          saying that they had had accidents in the home or at work.
          In February 2006 Mohsen Jan-Ghorbani, a professor of epidemiology at Esfahan
          University of Medical Sciences, said that “self-immolation is not just a way to end
          life, but also a way to send a message to their families and to the society”. He added
          that “women do not want to really commit suicide but they want, in fact, to make
          their cry for help to be heard and say that they are facing injustice.” 57
          The accounts of self-immolation set out below cover the mainly-Kurdish areas of West
          Azerbaijan, Kordestan and 11am provinces. 58
          In early 2006 the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), an NGO with
          membership in the Kurdish regions and Tehran published the names of more than
          150 Kurdish women and girls who had died by self-immolation in West Azerbaijan
          province. 59 Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand said that the victims were young —
          between 14 and 30 years old — and poorly educated.
          A six-year study between 1994-2000, covering 1,089 cases at the then two burn
          centres in Kordestan province, found that 65.6 per cent of victims of self-immolation
          were women and girls, and that 58 per cent of all patients were aged under 20. More
          women than men had over 60 per cent burned body surface, and most burns had
          been caused by kerosene. 6 °
          57 See Golnaz Esfandiari, Iran: Self-Immolation of Kurdish Women Brings Concern, RFE/RL, 9 February 2006,
          accessible at: http://www.payvand.com/news/06/feb/1067.html, accessed 19 February 2008.
          A 10 July 2006 report, Kohkiloyeh Has Highest Self-Immolation Rate (see: httr:llwww.iran-
          daily.com/1385/2606/html/ranorama.htm) , cited Farajollah Hassan-Zadeh, director of Kohkiloyeh-Boyerahmad
          (south-western Iran) Governor General's Office for social affairs, who told the Iran Labour News Agency that “98.1
          per cent of local women who commit suicide immolate themselves” and that “figures indicate that the number of
          women who commit self-immolation in the province is three times as high as the rate for men.” He added that six
          cases of women's self-immolation had been reported in the first quarter of the Iranian year (starting 21 March),
          and he blamed poverty, drug addiction, population explosion, mental disorders, ethnic prejudices, divorce and
          polygamy as factors triggering suicide attempts. However, while there are Kurds in the province, it is not clear that
          the victims were in fact Kurdish.
          See Golnaz Esfandiyari, Iran: Self-Immolation of Kurdish Women Brings Concern, op cit. Moreover, Dastgiri et
          al's study also shows that rates of self-immolation are very high in the mainly Azerbaijani town of Miyaneh.
          60 Bahram Groohi, Reza Alaghebandan, Abdolaziz Rastegar Lan, Analysis of 1089 burn patients in the province of
          Kurdistan, Iran, in Burn, Vol. 28, 2002.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          Distribution of patients with self-inflicted burns by
          age and sex
          Age (years)
          Number of males
          and females
          Number of
          21-25 30 3
          Source: B Groohi et al, Burns 28 (2002), table 6.
          Nasrin Mohammadi, a member of a women's NGO, Marivan Women's Cultural
          Society, in Kordestan province, described a case of a young woman who set fire to
          herself to protest against her husband's decision to marry another woman. She said:
          “I know this woman who is illiterate. Her husband became very rich in a very
          short time and he forced his wife to sign a letter of consent so he could marry
          another woman... She didn't know what she was signing. Since then she has
          attempted to commit suicide by self-immolation; 80 per cent of her body is
          burned and considering her condition I think she will die [ soon].” 61
          Nasrin Mohammadi added:
          “Women face more pressure in a traditional society and in our region because
          of deprivations and the rule of [ old] traditions this pressure has become much
          stronger. Women in our region are seen as ‘second class' citizens. The
          economic situation of women is a main factor; they are totally dependent on
          men and also the laws of our country are such that the courts never protect
          A study in 11am province covering 1995-2002 recorded 433 cases of self-immolation
          by men and women, representing by far the most common method of suicide. 62 Over
          82 per cent of the cases involved women, most in their mid-twenties.
          Similarly, the Deputy Governor for the Women's Affairs Office of 11am province,
          Heyran Pournajaf, reportedly stated in January 2004 that around 70 per cent of those
          who commit suicide are women, numbering 182 in the preceding year alone. 63
          61 This is cited in Golnaz Esfandiyari's report, op cit.
          62 See the abstract of The pattern of suicide methods within 11am province of Iran, by M Rezaeian and G
          Sharifirad, Rafsanjan Medical School, taken from the XXIV World Congress of the The International Association for
          Suicide Prevention (IASP), given at httrj://www.iasrj2007.orglimages/IASP Section2.rdf , accessed 19 February
          2008. A more detailed version of the abstract is given in Vol. 12, No. 3 (10.2006) in Persian, in the Iranian
          Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, at:
          httij://www.iums.ac.ir/iis/ar/browse.rjhrj?mag id=2&slc lang=en&sid=1 .
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 25
          The high rate of female self-immolation in 11am was of particular concern to the UN
          Special Rapporteur on violence against women during her visit to Iran in early 2005.
          She noted that:
          “... some of the cases of self-immolation in the city are linked to the lack of
          legal protection for women victims of violence, lack of shelters, difficulty in
          obtaining a divorce, child custody laws that favour the father and pervasive
          gender discrimination throughout society.” 64
          She also found that self-immolation incidents were related in some cases to “honour”
          crimes, which were particularly common in 11am. She reported that in 2001, a total
          of 565 women lost their lives in “honour” crimes, of which 375 were reportedly
          staged as self-immolation. 65
          Better protection of women's rights and economic development in Kurdish areas
          would help prevent self-immolation, as would better access to education for girls and
          improved support services for women. The availability of family mental health centres
          and psychological rehabilitation programmes could also reduce the rate of self-
          5. Targeted for speaking out
          The deep-rooted discrimination against Kurds has given rise to generations of
          activists calling for greater respect for minorities and better protection of the human
          rights of all Iranians.
          A key moment for Kurdish activists in recent times was in July 2005, when Iranian
          security officials shot dead Kurdish opposition leader Shawan Qaderi and two other
          men in Mahabad. The security forces tied Shawan Qaderi's body to a jeep and
          dragged the corpse through the streets. This sparked violent protests that shattered
          years of relative peace in Kordestan. The protests also marked the start of a new wave
          of state repression against Kurds in which those who spoke up for Kurdish rights were
          63 See the excerpt from Hamshahri given at htti://www.womenfreedomforum.org/rjublications/iournal2.rjdf
          64 See paras 34 and 35 in the report on the Special Rapporteur's Mission to Iran, UN document
          E/CN .4/2006/6 1/Add .3.
          65 Ibid. Paragraph 35, citing statistics provided by a consultant to the governor of Khuzestan.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 26
          Human rights defenders
          Roya Toloui, a 40-year-old pro-democracy and women's rights activist, was arbitrarily
          detained for 66 days beginning in August 2005. She was held on trumped-up
          charges for helping to organize demonstrations protesting against the killing of
          Shawan Qaderi, demonstrations that she believed would remain peaceful. 66 A
          pathologist and founding member of the Association of Kurdish Women for the
          Defence of Peace and Human Rights, she was held in solitary confinement and
          tortured. She says that she only agreed to sign a “confession” because her captors
          threatened to burn her two children to death in front of her.
          Iranian women human rights defenders have often aroused more hostility from the
          state authorities than their male colleagues because their activities are perceived as
          defying cultural, religious or social norms about the role of women. 67 As a result, they
          face human rights violations not only for their work as human rights defenders but
          also because of their gender.
          Nevertheless, Iran's women are playing a leading role in the struggle for human rights
          in the country. Among other activities, women's groups are providing education
          programmes for illiterate women, supporting victims of abuse, and generally raising
          awareness about women's rights. Many of these women, particularly those in Kurdish
          areas, do so although they face considerable risks because of their activities.
          After Roya Toloui was released on bail in October 2005, she fled the country. She
          eventually resettled in the USA. Even so, according to her lawyer, in May 2007 an
          Iranian court sentenced her in her absence to six years in prison for attending two
          banned rallies and for “propaganda against the system”. 68 In an interview with Radio
          Farda on 27 January 2006, Roya Toloui said:
          “During the night of 6 August [ 2005], [ an official] personally tortured me in
          the most brutal ways and subjected me to such behaviours that cannot be
          expressed... They were forcing me to confess. I wrote that I will speak only in
          the presence of my lawyer and they laughed at me. I wrote that this is against
          human rights and that I had the right to see my lawyer. They lost their
          patience and they ordered that my children should be brought in and they
          66 “Child Abuse — Mullah Style”, The Telegraph, 30 May 2006.
          67 For more information on Iranian WHRDs, see Iran: Women's Rights Defenders Defy Repression (Al Index MDE
          13/018/2008), issued in February 2008.
          68 Reuters, 23 May 2007.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          threatened me and said that they will burn my children alive in front of my
          eyes.” 69
          Many other Kurdish women activists have been targeted and abused by the state
          authorities. For example, Sarveh Komkar, a member of Human Rights Organisation of
          Kordestan (HROK) was reportedly arrested in Mahabad on 8 January 2006 by a
          special intelligence and security unit of the Revolutionary Guards. She was released
          five hours later, having sustained injuries and bruises from a severe beating. Other
          HROK members have been imprisoned or are facing prosecution, apparently in
          connection with their peaceful activities on behalf of the Kurdish minority in Iran.
          Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, both prisoners of conscience,
          were being held in the women's section of Sanandaj prison in
          Kordestan at the time of writing, in May 2008. ° Both are members
          of the Campaign for Equality, an Iranian women's rights initiative
          that is seeking an end to legalized discrimination against women in
          Iran 71
          RonakSafarzadeh Ronak Safarzadeh has been detained in Sanandaj since 9
          ©CampaignforEquality October 2007. The day before her arrest, she attended a meeting
          in Sanandaj held to mark International Day of the Child, and collected signatures in
          support of the Campaign for Equality, a broad-based movement of mainly women's
          rights activists which was initiated in August 2006 in order to campaign for the end
          to legal discrimination against women. According to the Campaign, when Ronak
          Safarzadeh's mother went to the local office of the Judiciary on 30 October to inquire
          69 More details of her testimony about her detention can be read (in English)
          at:http://www.abfiran . org/engl ish/docu ment-243-499 . ph p and
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.ihtm I?xm l=/news/2006/05/28/wislam28.xm l&s5heet=/news/2006/05/28/ix
          news. html
          ° More information on her case and that of Hana Abdi, discussed below, see Amnesty International urgent Action
          appeal referenced MDE 13/063/2008, at:
          http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/M DE13/063/2008/en/f bOl 21 08-Ob2a-1 1 dd-badf-
          1352a9 1852c5/mde l3O632008eng. html ,or http:llwww.amnesty.org/en/news-and-u pdates/report/women-act-
          against-repression-and-intimidation-iran-20080228 , and the report, Iran: Women's rights defenders defy
          repression (M DE 13/018/2008), available at:
          http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/M DE13/018/2008/en/63dd8933-el 6d-1 1 dc-9 135-
          058f98b1fb80/mde l3O l82008eng. df
          71 Both women are also affiliated to the Sanandaj- based women's rights NGO, Azar Mehr. This name could have a
          variety of meanings or simply be a family name.
          Amnesty International July 2008
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          about her, she was beaten by officials. Following her arrest, Ronak Safarzadeh was
          held incommunicado for three months.
          In April 2008, one report suggested that she had been tried. In May 2008, however,
          it was reported that during the course of a court hearing attended by her lawyer, she
          was charged with moharebe, or ‘enmity against God'. If so, this could be very serious,
          as such a charge can result in an accused being sentenced to death. However, by the
          end of May no further hearings were known to have been held.
          Psychology student Hana Abdi was arrested on 4 November 2007
          at her grandfather's home in Sanandaj. She too was held
          incommunicado for three months. According to her lawyer she faces
          trial on a “gathering and conspiracy” charge brought under Article
          610 of Iran's Penal Code, which says that if two or more people
          gather to conspire to commit crimes against the security of the
          nation, they may be punished with two to five years' imprisonment.
          At the end of April 2008, her case had been transferred to court for
          consideration, but no date had been set for her trial.
          Fatemeh Goftari, a women's rights activist, also affiliated with the Sanandaj-based
          women's rights NGO Azar Mehr, was detained for around four months — during three
          of which she was held incommunicado — prior to being released on bail equivalent to I
          some US$16,000. 72 She was reported to be possibly facing trial on politically-
          motivated charges relating to state security. Her son, Yaser Goli, a student activist
          and Kurdish rights advocate, has been detained since October 2007.
          In the Kurdish areas, as in other parts of Iran,
          men who are human rights defenders have also
          been targets of state repression. For example,
          Sa'id Sa'edi was arrested on 2 August 2005 for
          helping organize the protest demonstration
          against the killing of Shawan Qaderi in July
          2005. He was held for eight days in the Ministry
          of Intelligence detention facility in Sanandaj and
          beaten, then transferred to Sanandaj Central
          72 The us dollar figure of Iranian Rial or Toman amounts is taken from a currency conversion website located at:
          http://www.xe.com/ucc/full /
          Hana Abdi
          © Campaign for
          Sa'id Sa'edi © Private
          Amnesty International July 2008
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 29
          Prison. He was held incommunicado there for two weeks and then permitted visits
          from his family and lawyer. His case went before Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court
          in Sanandaj and on 5 October 2005 he was released on payment of bail equivalent to
          some US$114,000. Further charges were added to the original charge sheet against
          him, including that he was mohareb, or at war with God, though this accusation was
          then not included in his bail release warrant.
          Sa'id Sa'edi had helped to establish the East Kurdistan Cultural Research Institute
          (EKCRI or the Rorkhelat Institute), an NGO whose request for a license legally
          recognising their existence was turned down by the police. Following the killing of
          Shawan Qaderi, EKCRI called for a peaceful protest demonstration and for the
          release of political prisoners. At the end of the demonstration, Sa'id Sa'edi, Roya
          Toloui (see above), Azad Zamani (a member of the Association for the Defence of
          Children's Rights), 73 and two others were allowed to meet Kordestan's provincial
          governor in Sanandaj. Kurdish opposition groups then called for another
          demonstration to be held on 1 August 2005 in other towns and cities in Kordestan.
          EKCRI agreed to participate in the demonstration in Sanandaj on the condition that it
          was peaceful. However, on the day in question, the demonstration became violent,
          reportedly after the security forces attacked the protestors.
          Sa'id Sa'edi did not participate in this last demonstration as he was appearing in
          court in Marivan, accused of illegally crossing the border into Iraq. Nevertheless, the
          authorities accused him of going to Marivan to organize the demonstration there.
          Following his release, he received death threats from an organization calling itself the
          People of the Party of God, or Ommat-e Hezbollah-e Kurdistan (Sanandaj Branch). 74
          In June 2007 Sa'id Sa'edi was sentenced by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in
          Sanandaj to two years' imprisonment for attending rallies in mid-2005 and to six
          months' imprisonment for “propaganda against the system”. He said that he went to
          the rallies to report on them as a journalist. This sentence was reduced on appeal to a
          fine. He was later tried in February 2008 before a branch of the General Court on
          charges of criminal damage (arson and damage to cars and public and private
          buildings) relating to the 2005 demonstration, but by May 2008 the verdict was yet
          to be announced.
          Kanoun-e Defa' az Hoqouq-e Koudekan.
          These threats were included in a statement by Ommat-e Hezbollah on 14 January 2006 which can be read (in
          Persian) at httij://azad.gooya.name/ijolitics/archives/042527.rjhrj .
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          Ajial Qavami, who was arrested at the same time as Sa'id Sa'edi and faced the same
          charges, was also released on bail on 5 October 2005. While being detained, he was
          reported to have staged a 22-day hunger strike to protest against his imprisonment
          and conditions. He alleges that he was tortured during his detention and that prison
          officials threatened him with death at the hands of other prisoners and rape by
          prisoners who were HIV positive.
          , A board member of HROK and the member of the editorial
          board of the bilingual weekly Didgab, AjIal Qavami was
          formerly a journalist working for Payam-e Mardom-e
          - , Kordestan. He has been repeatedly charged with offences
          and imprisoned because of his advocacy on behalf of
          Iran's Kurdish minority. In June 2007, he was sentenced
          to three years' imprisonment by Branch 1 of the
          Ajial Qavami © Private Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj for his role in organizing
          the July 2005 demonstration, the sentence later being reduced to one year's
          imprisonment on appeal. Neither AjIal Qavami nor his lawyer, however, was told
          about this reduction in his prison term. AjIal Qavami was allowed out of prison on
          medical grounds for 10 days from 25 December 2007. This period was then further
          extended. As of May 2008 he was not believed to be in prison. He was also tried
          together with Sa'id Sa'edi in February 2008 on charges of criminal damage and in
          his case too the verdict was still not known in May 2008.
          AjIal Qavami suffers from eye and other health problems apparently caused or
          exacerbated by his imprisonment; he says his eyes became infected due to unsanitary
          conditions at Sanandaj Prison.
          Prisoner of conscience Moham mad Sadigh Kabudvand was
          sentenced on 18 August 2005 to 18 months in prison and a
          five-year ban on working as a journalist for “upsetting public
          opinion and spreading separatist ideas”. The conviction was
          related to his work as editor of Payam-e Mardom-e Kordestan,
          a weekly that was closed down by the authorities in 2004.
          The sentence was reduced on appeal to a year in prison,
          which he has not yet served. He founded HROK in 2005
          along with other journalists. HROK is thought to currently
          have more than 200 members. The authorities have
          Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand
          Amnesty International July 2008
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          persistently refused HROK's request for official recognition as an NGO.
          Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand was rearrested on 1 July 2007 and held in Section
          209 of Tehran's Evin Prison. Although he is believed not to have been formally
          charged, in mid-July 2007 he reportedly said that he was being accused of “acting
          against national security”, “propaganda against the system” and “co-operating with
          groups opposed to the system”. He complained of poor conditions of detention and
          said that whenever he was interrogated he was blindfolded and bound, hand and foot.
          His lawyer, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, has not been allowed to see him, and
          contact with his family has been limited.
          Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand is said, at the time of writing in April 2008, to suffer
          from high blood pressure, a skin disorder and a kidney complaint. He reportedly
          needs to be able to urinate frequently and failure to do so adversely affects his
          kidneys, and this has been used by his jailers to put additional pressure on him - they
          have told him that he must seek formal permission in writing before being allowed to
          use toilet facilities. He is also reported to have been told that he will be permitted
          access to toilet facilities whenever he needs if the three HROK board members who
          are still at liberty give themselves up voluntarily to the Ministry of Intelligence in
          Sherko Jihani, a HROK member and Mahabad correspondent
          for the Turkey-based Kurdish news agency Euphrat, was
          detained on 27 November 2006 in Mahabad. 75 During his
          interrogation, he was reportedly accused of involvement in
          organizing protests against the secret detention on 8 January
          2006 by Iranian security officials of a woman human rights
          activist, Sarveh Komkar (Kamkar), and for giving interviews to
          foreign media broadcasters about the killing of Shawan
          Qaderi in July 2005.76
          Sherko Jihani reportedly refused to pay bail of 50 million rials (about US$5,500) and
          on 30 November 2006 began a hunger strike in protest at his arrest and detention.
          On 4 December 2006 he began refusing to speak. Two days later he was taken from
          ‘ See Al Index MDE 13/137/2006, MDL 13/009/2007 and MDL 13/035/2007.
          76 Sherko Jihani has reportedly been arrested nine times since 1999 and is said to have been tortured during
          previous periods of detention.
          Sherko Jihani
          © www.Rijhilat.info
          Amnesty International July 2008
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 32
          Mahabad Central Prison to an unknown location and held incommunicado. He is
          believed to have been tortured. On 12 December 2006 a man claiming to be from
          the Mahabad branch of the Intelligence Services rang Sherko Jihani 's family and told
          them falsely that he had died of a heart attack. On 13 December, Sherko Jihani was
          allowed to telephone his family briefly.
          In January 2007 Sherko Jihani was moved back to Mahabad Central Prison and on 3
          February 2007 he was released on payment of bail. He is said to be facing two trials
          on charges of “disturbing public order” and “acting against state security”
          respectively, but by May 2008 no date was known to have been set for either of these
          The repeated harassment and imprisonment of human rights defenders by the Iranian
          authorities calls into question their willingness to observe basic principles of respect
          for human dignity. The government should ensure that human rights defenders can
          carry out their important work in a climate of respect and in accordance with human
          rights standards.
          Media workers
          Following the 1997 election of President Mohammad Khatami, the number of
          Kurdish-language publications grew. The first of this generation of publications was
          closed in 2003 and since August 2005, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
          assumed office, over 40 Kurdish publications have been closed or banned outright.
          Kurds seeking to express their views or beliefs in connection with their opposition
          politics face the same restrictions as all Iranians. However, journalists and news
          media publishing in Kurdish or covering Kurdish-related issues have been among
          those particularly targeted, especially since the 2005 unrest.
          Bahram Valadbeigi, an editor and journalist, is a leading activist for Kurdish cultural
          rights. 77 In 2005 he established Ashti (Reconciliation), one of the first bilingual
          Persian-Kurdish newspapers to be published in Kordestan, which he also edited.
          Following the killing of Shawan Qaderi, Ashti went to newsstands with only a white
          cover in protest at the killing. In later editions articles reportedly alleged that the
          In 1993-97 he was cultural counsellor to the Kordestan provincial governor. He was the founder and editor of
          Abidar, the first Kurdish weekly, publishing between 1995-99. In 2000 he established the Kurdistan Institute in
          Tehran and remains its head.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          security forces controlled and sold narcotics to Kurds. The paper was banned,
          apparently by the Press Court, and then closed by order of the authorities. However,
          the decision to close the journal was overturned by the Supreme Court in April 2008,
          and it was expected to resume publication shortly thereafter. Bahram Valadbeigi was
          charged with “disturbing public opinion”; 78 “efforts against national unity” and
          “propaganda for separation of the Kurds”. In May 2008 it still remained to be seen
          whether the verdict to annul Ashti's closure would cause the charges against him to
          be amended.
          In another case, three members of the editorial board of the Kurdish-language
          fortnightly Rojhelat— Farhad Aminpour, Reza Alipour and Saman Solaymani — were
          arrested at the newspaper's office in Sanadaj in October 2OO6. They were charged
          with “acting against national security” but released a month later on bail equivalent
          to around US$54,000. 8 ° They presented their final defence to the court in Sanandaj
          on 31 December 2007. In April 2008 the journal was banned on grounds of
          receiving money from an outside source, possibly in connection with selling the
          journal in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The men were fined.
          78 Tashvish-e ahzan-e ‘omomL
          ‘ “Arrest of editorial board of Kurd ish/Farsi Rojhelat”, www.kurdishstudents.com/shownews.aspx? id= 1110
          80 BBC Monitoring research 3 January 2007, quoting ILNA report.
          81 Iranian news website Advar, in Persian, accessed on 26 December 2006.
          k ,
          In December 2006, two Kurdistan University students,
          Aso Saleh, a 25-year-old engineering student, and Tchia
          (or Chia) Hejazi, were each sentenced to six-month prison
          terms, suspended for three years, after they were
          convicted on charges of publishing lies. This followed
          complaints relating to the publication of a report in the
          student weekly journal Deng about an argument between
          two members of the Sanandaj City Council. 8 ' Aso Saleh
          had previously been suspended from his studies and
          began working for the dual-language newspaper Didgah.
          In January 2007 he received death threats from an
          unknown group called the Revolutionary Youth of
          him and AjIal Qavami (see above) of working against the
          Aso Saleh
          Islamic Republic
          © Private
          which accused
          Amnesty International July 2008
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 34
          After he participated in a Women's Day demonstration in Sanandaj on 8 March 2007,
          called by three local human rights groups, 82 Aso Saleh was arrested and detained for
          nine days at Ministry of Intelligence facilities in Sanandaj. He was then reportedly
          transferred to Sanandaj Prison where he spent a further three days. He was charged
          with undertaking “acts against national security” and espionage. After being
          sentenced to one year's imprisonment, he fled the country. On 9 September 2007,
          he wrote to Amnesty International, and said:
          / am Aso Saleh, the student of Electronic Engineering in Kurdistan University. I
          was the Chief Editor of “Deng” which is a student weekly in university. And I was
          the correspondent and the member of Editorial Board of “Didgah”, an
          independent weekly which published in Sanandaj.
          I have been prevented to continue my studies in university by the authorities,
          because of my civil activities for one educational term.
          Again I have been sentenced to six months jail by revolutionary court in
          Sanandaj, because of my activities as a journalist in weekly Didgah.
          I was arrested by the security forces when I was preparing a report about women
          activities on 8th March meeting in Sanandaj. And I was in prison (Etela'at
          Prison) for 11 days. Recently I have been sentenced to one year jail in
          revolutionary court of Sanandaj for my activities as a journalist in Kurdish-
          Persian weekly “Didgah”.
          It is necessary to mention that, the High Education Ministry told me that you
          can not be graduated forever from any universities in Iran.
          So you know in this condition I have no chance to continue my studies in Iran,
          and even can not have a job.
          Tchia Hejazi was able to resume his studies, but if he takes part in any further
          protest activities before the end of 2009 he risks having to serve the six months'
          suspended prison sentence.
          82 These were the Association for the Protection of Children's Rights (Anjoman-e Defa' az Hoqouq-e Koudakan),
          whose then director was Azad Zamani; The Society for Support of Women (Jame'eh-e Hemayat-e Zanan), then led
          by Diba Alikhani; and a culturally-oriented NGO called Shaho.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 35
          Kaveh Javanmard of the weekly Kerefto was arrested on 18 December 2006 and
          remains held in Sanandaj. In May 2007, he was reportedly sentenced to two years'
          imprisonment following a secret trial on charges of “inciting revolt” and “acts against
          national security”.
          Some of those arrested have suffered torture and other ill-treatment. Madeh Ahmadi,
          a journalist, worked in Kordestan for national papers such as Hambastegi, a now-
          closed pro-reform publication. He was arrested on 28 July 2005 at a police
          checkpoint between Marivan and Sanandaj. He was interrogated 11 times while held
          for two days in Sarvabad. He was subjected to qapani, 83 a form of torture carried out
          by handcuffing or binding a person's hands behind the back and then hanging the
          individual by the secured wrists or arms from either a wall or ceiling. When he was
          taken to court in Sarouabad on 30 July 2005, a judge reportedly asked him about the
          blood on his clothing. He replied that he had been tortured but, it appears, the court
          took no steps to investigate.
          Madeh Ahmadi was transferred less than a week later to the Ministry of Intelligence
          detention facility in Sanandaj where he spent the next eight days. He was repeatedly
          tortured and otherwise ill-treated, including by beatings, lashes, a reduced food
          supply and restricted toilet breaks (once a day). He was transferred to Marivan for six
          days and then back to Sanandaj's Ministry of Intelligence facility for a final 20 days.
          He was forced to sign or fingerprint notes of his interrogation while blindfolded. He
          was then compelled to memorize the replies for the purpose of a recorded interview.
          If he forgot or strayed from what he was supposed to say, he was beaten by the
          Following another period in Sarouabad Prison, Madeh Ahmadi was sentenced to three
          months' imprisonment and a fine in connection with an illegal border crossing. When
          release on bail was denied, he sewed his lips together to protest. Following a hunger
          strike, Madeh Ahmadi was released on bail in November 2005. In January 2006,
          following questioning — and possibly threats — from interrogators, he went into hiding
          in Kordestan for almost one year but then, following a raid on his home, he fled Iran.
          He was later sentenced in his absence to five years' imprisonment.
          Also known as “dastband qapani”, or the “bound qapani”.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 36
          6. Unlawful killings by security forces
          The killing of Shawan Qaderi and two other men in Mahabad in July 2005, described
          above, marked an extreme failure of the security forces to abide by international
          standards governing the use of lethal force. 84 Following the killings, the security
          forces repeated this failure as they responded harshly to mass protests.
          On 15 July, security forces reportedly fired live ammunition into a crowd of
          demonstrators, and large numbers of troops and helicopter gunships were deployed in
          the Mahabad region. Up to 20 people were reportedly killed and hundreds more
          injured during the unrest. The authorities acknowledged that five people were killed,
          and stated that their deaths were under investigation. The findings were never made
          In February 2006, clashes between Kurdish demonstrators and the security forces in
          Maku and other towns reportedly led to at least nine deaths of protestors. The
          following month, Kurdish members of the Majles wrote to President Ahmadinejad
          demanding an investigation into the killings and calling for those responsible to be
          brought to justice. An investigation was reportedly set up, but its findings are not
          On 16 February 2007, three Kurds were reportedly killed by security forces during a
          demonstration in Mahabad — 18-year-old Bahman Moradi, a woman called Malihe
          and one person whose name is not known to Amnesty International. Dozens of others
          were reported to have been injured.
          There have also been suspicious deaths in custody. Student Ebrahim Lotfallahi, 27,
          was arrested on 6 January 2008 while sitting a university exam in Sanandaj. His
          parents visited him a few days later but on 15 January they were told that he had
          committed suicide and that his body had been buried already in a part of Sanandaj
          cemetery usually reserved for those opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The
          distraught family asked for the body to be exhumed and examined by an independent
          pathologist. By May 2008, permission for the exhumation had not been granted.
          For example, Articles 2 and 3 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials; and Principle 4 of the
          UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 37
          Outside Iran
          In former years, the Iranian authorities are believed to have instigated or carried out
          extra-territorial acts against opponents, including prominent Kurds. For example,
          Iran ian government agents were suspected of murdering Dr Abdol-Rahman
          Ghassemlou, former Secretary-General of the KDPI, in July 1989 in Austria. He was
          attending a meeting arranged by Iranian officials ostensibly to discuss a peace
          settlement in respect to the post-revolutionary insurgency in the Kurdish regions of
          Iran. 85
          Three leading KDPI members — Dr Mohammad Sadigh Sharafkandi (Dr Abdol-
          Rahman Ghassemlou's successor), Fatah Abdoli and Homayoun Ardalan — and an
          associate, Nourollah Mohammadpour Dehkordi, were killed in September 1992 in
          Germany, where they were due to take part in the Congress of the Socialist
          International. The verdict of the trial that resulted from the incident concluded that
          that the killings had been carried out by personnel of the Iranian Special Operations
          Council of the Ministry of Intelligence and people recruited by Iranian Ministry of
          Intelligence agents. The court found that the operation had been authorized by the
          Iranian government's Special Affairs Committee headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah
          Ali Khamenei. After a trial lasting three and a half years, four individuals who had
          been apprehended by the German authorities — three Lebanese nationals and one
          Iranian —were sentenced to jail terms for their roles in the attack. All are now believed
          to have been freed.
          The Berlin Court of Appeals verdict on 10 April 1997 concluded that the Iranian
          government had been directly involved in the killings, assigning responsibility to a
          state other than Germany for the first time in a murder trial. 86 The Iranian
          government condemned the verdict. President Rafsanjani, then in office, asserted
          that it was a politically-motivated judgement and that it would be remembered as
          ‘shameless'. 87
          In addition to targeted assassinations, the Iranian authorities have been responsible
          for other unlawful killings outside Iran. In June 2007 Iranian forces shelled Iraqi
          Kurdish villages in what appeared to be grossly disproportionate attacks. The
          Murder at Mykonos: Anatomy of a Political Assassination, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, March
          86 Murder at Mykonos, op cit. In December 2007, the Iranian national sentenced to life imprisonment was
          returned to Iran, as part of an unspecified prisoner exchange.
          87 Murder at Mykonos, op. cit., page 19
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 38
          operation allegedly killed Iranian Kurds thought to be members of opposition groups,
          who may have been involved in operations against Iranian security forces. Such
          attacks on Iraqi villages continued, on and off, for several months, despite protests by
          the Iraqi authorities. As a result, thousands of Kurdish villagers, Iranians and Iraqis,
          fled their homes and joined other internally displaced people in Iraq.
          In August 2007 Iraqi Kurdish officials expressed concern about the clashes between
          Kurdish fighters and Iranian forces in the remote border area of north-east Iraq,
          where the Iranian authorities had deployed thousands of Revolutionary Guards. 88 The
          officials said four days of shelling by Iranian forces had hit mountain villages inside
          Iraq, forcing about 1,000 people from their homes.
          7. The death penalty and unfair trials
          Abdo lwahed (known as Hiwa) Butimar and Adnan Hassanpour, were both imprisoned
          and facing possible execution in May 2008.89 Hiwa Butimar, head of the Green
          Mountain Society, an environmental organization, was arrested on or around 23
          December 2006. Adnan Hassanpour, a Kurdish journalist who had worked with the
          banned Asou publication and an advocate of cultural rights for Iranian Kurds, was
          detained on 25 January 2007. Both were reportedly held incommunicado in a
          Ministry of Intelligence facility in Marivan, Kordestan province, and transferred to
          Marivan Prison on 26 March 2007. They reportedly appeared before a Revolutionary
          Court in Sanandaj on 12 June 2007.
          On 15 July 2007 the men were reportedly taken to an unconfirmed place of
          detention, possibly the detention facility run by the Ministry of Intelligence in
          Sanandaj. Two days later they were told that they had been sentenced to death on
          charges of espionage and moharebe (‘enmity against God'). In October 2007, the
          death sentence against Adnan Hassanpour was upheld by the Supreme Court, while
          that of Hiwa Butimar was overturned and the case sent back to a lower court for
          His lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said that Hiwa Butimar had been charged with carrying
          lethal weapons, although he denied his client had ever done so, and stressed that
          88 “Kurds flee homes as Iran shells villages in Iraq”, Guardian Unlimited, 20 August 2007,
          httr://www.guard ian . co.ukllraci/5tory/0,,2152325.OO.html
          89 For more information concerning Adnan Hassanpour and Abdo lwahed Butimar known as Hiwa, see urgent
          Action appeal (Al reference MDE 13/133/2007), 13 November 2007 -
          http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/M DE13/133/2007/en/dom-M DE13 1332007en html
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MOE 1 3/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          Hiwa Butimar had not been in contact with any armed group. 9 ° Following a further
          investigation, in April 2008, his death sentence was upheld by another lower court in
          Mariwan. The charges against Adnan Hassanpour included “a phone conversation he
          had with a staff member of Radio Voice of America”, which was deemed to have been
          contact with the US State Department. He was told that he was sentenced in
          connection with allegedly revealing the location of military sites and establishing
          contacts with the US foreign affairs ministry and assisting in the flight from Iran of a
          person wanted for questioning by the judiciary. Taken together these were considered
          as amounting to the capital offence of moharebe (‘enmity against God'). The
          Supreme Court upheld this conclusion and therefore upheld the death sentence.
          Teacher Farzad Kamangar was detained by Ministry of
          Intelligence officials in May 2006. The exact basis for the
          arrest is not known. In the course of some four months, his
          whereabouts, like that of two others, Ali Heydarian and Farhad
          Vakili, was unknown. Farzad Kamangar's family then learned
          that he was held in Evin Prison. After seven months, he was
          permitted his first visit by a family member, although even
          then it was not a private visit; prison guards were present and
          Farzad Kamangar and his relative were required to speak in
          Persian. Farzad Kamangar (part of whose testimony can be
          found in an appendix to this report) was repeatedly and
          systematically tortured over a period of at least two years prior
          to being sentenced to death by a lower court on 25 February 2008, following a
          grossly flawed trial. According to Iranian press reports, in June 2006 he had travelled
          to Tehran along with two other Kurdish activists and traces of explosive powder and a
          gun were later found in the house and in a car that they had used. Following this they
          were arrested.
          Farzad Kamangar
          © Private
          90 http://www.roozonIine.com/english/archives/2007/07 /006302 ph p .
          Amnesty International July 2008
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          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          On 4 December 2007 Makwan Moloudzadeh, an Iranian Kurdish juvenile offender,
          was executed following a grossly flawed trial for an offence he allegedly committed at
          the age of 13. He was convicted of the alleged rape of three individuals. The alleged
          victims withdrew their accusations in July 2007 during the
          trial, which was held in a criminal court in Kermanshah with
          sessions held in Paveh. They reportedly stated that they had
          either lied or had been forced to “confess” in relation to the
          rape allegations.
          In sentencing Makwan Moloudzadeh to death, the judge
          / relied not on the evidence but on his “knowledge” that
          Makwan Moloudzadeh could be tried as an adult and that
          the alleged offence had been committed. According to
          Article 120 of the Penal Code, in cases of anal sex between
          men, the judge “can make his judgement according to his knowledge which is
          obtained through conventional methods”. Reports suggested that Makwan
          Moloudzadeh, a Kurdish speaker, did not understand all of the court proceedings,
          which were conducted in Persian. 9 '
          Iran's Penal Code distinguishes five types of crime: hodoud (crimes against divine
          will); qesas (retribution in kind); diyeh (compensation); ta'z/r (crimes that incur
          discretionary punishments applied by the state that are not derived from Islamic law);
          and deterrent punishments, which include fines. The death penalty is provided for
          certain hodoudand ta'zircrimes, and is available under qesas for murder.
          Judges have a wide degree of discretion in deciding whether a particular crime is so
          serious that it amounts to one of these categories and therefore can be punished by
          death rather than a term of imprisonment or other penalties.
          Under international human rights law, those suspected of, or charged with, crimes
          punishable by death are entitled to the strictest observance of all fair trial guarantees
          at all stages of the legal proceedings, including during the investigation stage, as well
          as to certain additional safeguards such as the right to a commutation of the
          sentence. 92
          91 See, Iran: The last executioner of children (Al Index: MDL 13/059/2007) June 2007, and
          httQ://web.amnesty.orgfl i brary/i ndex/en mde13O592OO7
          92 Article 6 of the ICCPR.
          Makwan Moloudzadeh
          © Private
          Amnesty International July 2008
          Al Index: MOE 1 3/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 4]
          One of the key safeguards for a fair trial, enshrined in international law, is a
          defendant's right to a lawyer at all stages of the judicial process. 93 In Iran,
          defendants only have the right to a lawyer after investigations have been completed
          and formal charges lodged. This results in prolonged periods of incommunicado
          detention as well as interrogation without the presence of a lawyer, both of which
          facilitate the use of torture or other ill-treatment to obtain confessions. 94
          The Islamic Penal Code specifies that confessions to hodoud and qesas offences may
          be used as a sole means of proving an offence, 95 heightening the risk that defendants
          will be unfairly convicted on the basis of confessions that were not freely given.
          Lawyers may be present during committal proceedings, but are not allowed to speak
          until the end of proceedings. In “sensitive” cases, the judge has the discretionary
          power to exclude lawyers from the hearing that decides the sentence. 96 If a defendant
          cannot afford a lawyer of their own choice, one is appointed for them by the court.
          Other serious failings in Iran's justice system include: lack of access to a lawyer of
          one's choice; pre-trial detention of suspects, sometimes in unofficial detention
          centres outside the official prison system, which facilitates the use of torture or ill-
          treatment to extract confessions; denial of the right to call defence witnesses; failing
          to give adequate time to the defence to present its case; and imprisoning defence
          lawyers if they protest against unfair proceedings. 97
          Such failings are particularly serious in capital cases. They also increase the
          likelihood that defendants from Iran's Kurdish and other minority communities, who
          face systematic discrimination by the state and may not speak the language of the
          court, will be victims of miscarriages of justice.
          For example, Article 14 of the ICCPR.
          The right to communicate with counsel requires that the accused be granted prompt access to counsel. Counsel
          should be able to meet their clients in private and to communicate with the accused in conditions that fully
          respect the confidentiality of their communications. Furthermore, lawyers should be able to advise and to
          represent people charged with a criminal offence in accordance with generally recognized professional ethics
          without restrictions, influence, pressure or undue interference from any quarter.
          Other means of proving such crimes include testimony of witnesses or the knowledge of the judge obtained
          through conventional methods.
          96 Article 15 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In cases involving capital punishment, it is axiomatic that the
          accused must be effectively assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the proceedings (referring to Communications No.
          985/2001, Aliboeva v. Tajikistan, para. 6.4; No. 964/2001, Saidova v. Tajikistan, para. 6.8; No. 781/1997, Aliev
          v. Ukraine, para. 7.3; No. 554/1993, LaVende v. Trinidad and Tobago, para. 58.)
          Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, 27 June 2003, E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.2.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 42
          The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that “the death penalty should be quite
          an exceptional measure” and should only be handed down after a trial that observes
          all the procedural guarantees for a fair hearing. 98 Amnesty International opposes the
          death penalty in all cases because it violates the right to life and the right not to be
          tortured or subject to any cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
          8. Recommendations
          Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to end discrimination against
          Kurds and ensure that Kurds and all other members of minority communities in Iran
          — men, women and children alike — can access and enjoy their full range of human
          Specifically, Amnesty International makes the following recommendations to the
          Iranian government:
          On discriminatory laws and practices, including in relation to religion and culture:
          - Review all legislation with a view to removing all provisions that discriminate
          against or have a discriminatory impact on ethnic, religious and other minority
          - Issue directives and take effective measures to counter the discriminatory
          application of laws in order to ensure that all Iran's minority communities
          enjoy their full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
          On employment:
          - End the discriminatory gozinesh criteria governing employment, including
          appointment to public office.
          On housing:
          - End forced evictions and any policy of land expropriation or population transfer
          that is discriminatory or otherwise contrary to international human rights law
          and standards.
          - Ensure that forced evictions are carried out only as a last resort and in
          accordance with due process of law, following consultation with those
          affected, assurance of adequate alternative accommodation, with
          compensation and in compliance with international human rights law.
          On education:
          Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 6 on the right to life, para. 7.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 43
          - Take measures so that members of minority communities can be taught in
          their mother tongue and have adequate opportunities to learn their mother
          On the rights of girls and women:
          - End legal discrimination against women, including by modifying or abolishing
          laws (such as the Penal Code), regulations, customs and practices that
          discriminate against women in family matters or which permit such
          discrimination to exist. Specifically, ensure that women are given legal
          equality in respect of the right freely to choose a spouse and for the care and
          custody of children during marriage and its dissolution, as well as in matters
          relating to inheritance, housing, work and other economic activities.
          - Ratify promptly and without reservation the UN Convention on the Elimination
          of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol.
          - Publicly condemn all violence against women and girls, including violence in
          the family.
          - Criminalize discrimination and violence against women, and put in place
          measures, such as training of state personnel, to ensure the law is
          - Ensure that “honour” crimes and violence in the family are treated as serious
          criminal offences, and are appropriately investigated and punished.
          - Investigate promptly, impartially and thoroughly all murders, attempted
          murders and apparent suicides of women, with a view to bringing to justice
          those responsible for violence against women.
          - Take concrete steps to reduce self-immolation by Kurdish women and girls.
          - Use the findings of women's rights NGO5 on violence against women to plan
          and implement public education awareness campaigns.
          - Ensure women's human rights defenders are free to act without threat or
          hindrance by the state or non-state actors when going about their legitimate
          - Implement effective measures to ensure gender equality in education,
          prioritizing the training and recruitment of female teachers and making it
          compulsory for girls to attend school till the required age of 14.
          On the rights of human rights defenders:
          - Adopt and take into domestic legislation the measures set out in the
          Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs
          of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and
          Fundamental Freedoms.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 44
          - Translate into Persian and relevant minority languages and disseminate widely
          within Iran the UN publication Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right
          to Defend Human Rights, also known as Factsheet 29, which describes the
          work of human rights defenders and issues relating to their protection.
          On torture and other ill-treatment, including use of lethal force:
          - Publicly condemn torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
          - Take urgent steps to ensure that no one is tortured or otherwise ill-treated,
          including by ending the practice of prolonged incommunicado detention.
          - Order a thorough and impartial investigation into all allegations of torture and
          other ill-treatment, bring to justice those responsible for any abuses, and give
          full reparation to the victims.
          - End the use of televised forced “confessions” which breach the right to the
          presumption of innocence and the right not to be compelled to testify against
          oneself or to confess guilt.
          - Ratify the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol.
          On trials:
          - Review the use of all special courts in Iran, including Revolutionary Courts and
          the Special Court for the Clergy.
          - Ensure that all trials, including in capital cases, respect as a minimum the
          relevant fair trial and due process provisions of the ICCPR.
          - Release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience.
          - Order the prompt fair retrial in ordinary courts or release of all those
          imprisoned for alleged political offences.
          On the death penalty:
          - Commute all death sentences and order a moratorium on executions in line
          with the December 2007 UN General Assembly resolution calling for a
          worldwide moratorium on executions.
          - Review all legislation under which a convicted person may be killed by the
          state, with the immediate aim of reducing the scope of the death penalty and
          with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty.
          - Revise legislation to ensure that anyone sentenced to death can seek pardon or
          commutation of their sentence, in line with Iran's obligations under Article
          6(4) of the ICCPR, and be permitted adequate time and opportunity to do so.
          - Review law and practice to ensure that no one aged under 18 at the time of
          their alleged crime may be sentenced to death.
          - Review all pre-trial and trial safeguards set out in the code of Criminal
          Procedures as they relate to capital crimes with a view to implementing the
          minimum safeguards set out in the international treaties to which Iran is a
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 45
          state party, with a view to abolishing subjective criteria such as reliance on the
          ‘judge's knowledge'.
          On co-operation with international human rights bodies:
          - Facilitate as a matter of priority the outstanding requests to visit Iran made by
          the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,
          the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, the Special
          Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the Special Rapporteur on torture,
          and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and
          give consideration to inviting the UN Independent Expert on Minorities to visit
          Iran including Kurdish and other minority areas; and continue dialogue with
          the Special Rapporteurs on adequate housing and violence against women and
          work towards the implementation of their recommendations.
          - Invite the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation
          of human rights defenders, along with the UN Independent Expert on minority
          issues, to assess the situation facing Kurdish human rights defenders and to
          make recommendations to the government.
          - Invite other independent bodies, such as Amnesty International, to visit Iran,
          including Kurdish and other minority areas and to engage in discussion of
          human rights concerns.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          j, *A3 j 1386/6/29 ‘kLyy 1312/3780 Lf & 4 U iti
          4i   SiU J 4ij LJSj J j.
          i .a&j, L Ju U 4..ul&c U 4..Ai Jjs.c 4.4 i 1J o. y syf 5 i 3 iU
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          The text below has been entered above the image of the
          Haq places of worship
          letter to facilitate legibility.
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          Amnesty International July 2008
          Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 47
          44 i '
          - -
          Kermanshah Governor General
          Date: 22/10/07
          To: Local [ district] Governors
          Following instruction made by Ministry of Interior No.1312/3780 dated 20/09/07
          regarding the movements and activities of the Ahl-e Haq [ community] in respect to
          the construction of “Jam'e-khane” [ Houses of Worship], [ it is noted that their]
          establishment has no basis, legally or with respect to the Shari'a [ Islamic Law].
          Please refrain from any correspondence and communication with any public authority
          [ on this]. This is sent for [ your] observation and instruction for appropriate action.
          Seyed Mostafa Abtahi
          Director General of the Councils
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 48
          Appendix 2: Forced reporting on activities of non-recognised minorities in
          / :j /
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          Amnesty International July 2008
          Al Index: MDE 1 3/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 49
          Ministry of Education
          Date: 01/12/97
          Tehran Province Education Authority / Very Confidential
          Shahr e-Ghods Local Education Authority
          To the Head of School/Institute (unnamed):
          I am writing to ask you if there are any students and staff from subversive sects
          (Feragh e ZaIIeh), [ such as] the Bahai, Ali-Ellahi, Ahl-e Haq etc. in your in your
          institution, [ and to request that you] please report their details individually on the
          forms provided and send them back to the Security Office of the Department of
          Education within a maximum of two weeks upon receipt of this directive.
          It is necessary to add that any activity and propaganda by the above mentioned
          individuals is forbidden in your institute/school. These matters should be in
          compliance with all the regulations and regulation of the institute.
          Signed: Jafar Najafi
          Head of Education Authority/ Region of Shahr e Ghods
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 50
          Appendix 3: Further example of reporting on activities of non-recognised
          minorities in schools
          a 4 • I
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          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MOE 1 3/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 5]
          NB: This is an incomplete excerpt of a document
          21- Behavioural and moral issues are to be resolved and settled in school, by staff
          and counsellors and if the case becomes serious, it is referred to the [ relevant]
          department after all disciplinary measures have been implemented.
          22- It is essential that all Heads of schools! institutes identify students and staff
          affiliated and belonging to subversive and non-subversive sects (Feragh e Zalleh and
          non-Zalleh) including: Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Baha'is, Ahl-e Haq, Sunnis,
          foreign nationals and to report [ on] them individually on the form provided,
          [ including] their details and to send back the form to this office, confidentially.
          23- It is necessary to alert all staff in connection with Islamic values and codes of
          behaviour, [ ...] to comply with these codes and values as some female colleague
          (sisters) sit in front rows [ of buses] just behind the driver despite previous
          notifications as we had complaints. They should be reminded of these codes by the
          Head of the institutes.
          24- It is necessary for Heads to report to this office in writing any news or ongoing
          rumours or events happening around school.
          25- It has been reported that some colleagues and principles of the schools are
          participating in political and social debates in working hours. It has been reported
          that these colleagues also attend illegal meeting which is against their professional
          code of practice. These will undermine the educational and cultural values and cause
          separation and polarisation in community. It is confrontation with the government.
          Therefore it is strongly advisable to avoid these behaviour and those who fail to do so
          will face serious consequences
          26- It is necessary that all the principles of the institutions treat and handle the
          current and following directive letters and instructions to sent to their institute with
          [ Discontinued]
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 52
          Appendix 4: Partial testimony of Farzad Kamangar
          This text, which has been edited, was widely circulated on the internet in April 2008.
          Amnesty International does not know who made the translation, for which it does not
          take responsibility.
          I am Farzad Kamangar, also known as Siamand; a teacher who used to work in the
          Iranian governmental education system in the town of Kamyaran, with 12 years
          experience of teaching.
          One year before my arrest, I was busy teaching at the Karvdanesh institute. I also was
          a member of the board of directors of the teachers of Kamyaran association in the
          Kurdistan branch and up to the point of disbandment of the association and just
          before the activities of the association was banned by the government; I was the head
          of PR. Also I was a member of the guild writers of a cultural/educational monthly
          called Royan, which later came to be under the siege of the governmental education
          system and was later blocked.
          For some time I was also a member of the environmental society in Kamyaran and
          from 2005 onwards I begun with my human rights activities and eventually came to
          be one of the writers for the human rights association. I travelled to Tehran in August
          2006 in order to follow up on the health of my sick brother, who is also a political
          activist, and there I was arrested.
          On the same day I was transferred to an undisclosed location. It was a basement
          without and ventilation, claustrophobic and dark, the cells didn't have any floor just
          plain dirt, nothing was there neither a mattress nor a cover or anything else. It was
          very dark there; I was taken to another room. While they were writing down my details
          they asked me of my origins as soon as I said “Kurd” they flogged me all over my
          body with a hose looking whip. Because of [ my] religion I had to endure profanities,
          insu Its and beating. I was even severely battered because of the Kurdish ringtone that
          I had on my mobile. They would tie my hands and put me on a chair and put heavy
          pressure on various sensitive parts of my body.. .they would remove my clothes with
          force and threatening me with rape with a baton or sticks.
          My left foot was brutally injured at this location and because of the simultaneous hits
          to my head as I was electrified I passed out and ever since I gained my conscious I
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 53
          have lost the sense of balance in my body and now shake without any control. They
          would chain my feet and with electric shocks who was created by small appliances
          that they had tied to my back, they would shock different sensitive areas of my body,
          they pain was immensely agonizing.
          I was later transferred to the villainous 209 lockup of Evin prison. I was blindfolded
          as soon as I entered and in the entrance corridor (floor level- left-hand side further up
          than the room for execution of orders) I was put in a small room where I was battered
          severely with punches and kicks there as well. The following day, they transferred me
          to Sanandaj prison until they would arrest my brother. From the moment I entered
          the lockup I was facing profanities, insults and battering. I was not even allowed the
          usage of toilet facilities, until I was forced to wet myself. After enduring a lot of the
          physical and psychological pressure I was once again transferred to the 209 lockup.
          In the rooms on the first floor (the green interrogation rooms) I was interrogated and
          battered and tormented.
          After all the torture I had to endure, they were forced to take me to a doctor on the
          Sunday 27 August 2006. His office was connected to the interrogation rooms, where
          the doctor recorded the bruises from the torture, flogging and battering. They were
          clearly visible on my back, neck, head, rear, thighs and feet. I spent the two months
          of August and September in solitary confinement cell number 43. Because of the
          magnitude of the tortures and torments I had to endure I went on a hunger strike for
          33 days, they started to harass and threat my family, in order to free myself from the
          torture and to demonstrate against the ill treatment and the pressures against my
          family, I threw myself down the stairs of the first floor in order to commit suicide.
          I spent close to a month in solitary isolation, at the end of the first floor, in section
          113 [ of the prison]. It had a horrible stench. During this period I was not allowed to
          have visits nor telephone calls with any member of my family. During the 3 months of
          solitary confinement I was not allowed to go out in the free air. After enduring these
          months they moved me to a bigger cell, cell number 10, a cell intended for several
          persons, and I spent close to two months there. Still I was not allowed to have any
          contact with a lawyer or my family.
          In the beginning of January of 2007 I was transferred from the 209 facility in Tehran
          to the Ministry of Intelligence's detention centre in Kermanshah, situated in Naft
          Square without any charges or due process. The centre's cells were small and dark
          and all kinds of crimes were committed there.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 54
          [ At the Kermanshah facility] they removed all my clothes and after having battered
          me, they gave me dirty and stinking clothes and with kicks and punches in the
          hallway of the lockup took me to the room of the security officer in charge and from
          there to a another corridor which they entered in a small door.
          There was a really small cell hidden far away from everybody else and so far that even
          my screams couldn't reach anybody else. This cell was 1.6m by O.5m. Two small
          light bulbs were hanging from the roof. There was no ventilation. The cell used to be
          a toilet before and was really stinking and cold. There was one really dirty duvet in
          the cell. Every time I would wake up unexpectedly I would hit my head on the wall.
          The cell was dreadfully cold. In order to breathe sometimes I was forced to lay my
          face down on the ground and breathe through the small gap between the door and
          the floor.
          During my sleep or rest the guards would periodically knock hard on the door in order
          to disturb my rest or they would turn off the lights. Two days after my arrival at the
          prison I was taken to the interrogation room and without posing one single question
          they started to kick and punch me. They swore and insulted me however they could.
          Afterwards I was taken back to my cell; they turned on the radio an put it on the
          highest volume in order to disturb my rest. I was allowed to go to the toilet two times
          every 24 hours and permitted to wash myself a few minutes [ only] once a month.
          The following are examples of the torture that I suffered at the Kermanshah facility:
          1. Playing “football” - this was a term used by interrogators when they stripped
          me of my clothes and four or five persons formed a circle around me. Each one
          would then pummel, kick and then pass me around, like a football, between
          each person. If I fell to the ground they would laugh at me and hit me savagely
          while I was on the floor.
          2. They forced me to stand on one leg for hours and hold my hands up high. If I
          got tired and slouched or dropped my leg or arm they would beat me.
          3. During repeated interrogations, I was punched and slapped.
          4. In the basement of the centre, whose stairs from the main corridor to free air
          was covered by trash and breadcrumbs to hide it from others, there was
          another torture room to which they would take me at night fall and there they
          would tie my hands and feet to a bed and using a whip which they called
          “Zolfaghar”. Then they would flog the soles of my feet, then my thighs and
          finally my back. The pain was unbearable and I could not even walk for days.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority
          5. They had a ‘cold' room, so called because it was cold and in the winter they
          would take me there in the morning, saying it was for ‘interrogation'. In fact,
          they [ merely] incarcerated me there from morning to the following dawn and
          there was no interrogation.
          6. In the Kermanshah facility they applied electric shocks to the body, especially
          to various sensitive parts of the body.
          7. I was not allowed to use a toothbrush or toothpaste and was given tiny
          amounts of leftover food which stank and was completely unfit for human
          At the Kermanshah lockup they prohibited me from having any visits and went so far
          so as to arrest a woman that I was interested in. Problems were created for my
          brothers and they too were arrested. Because of the filth present in the cell, on the
          blanket and my dirty, unwashed and stinking, unhygienic clothes, I got skin problems
          [ fungus infection] and I wasn't even allowed to visit a doctor. I undertook a hunger
          strike lasting 12 days when the torture became more severe.
          For the last 15 days, they changed my cell to a cell that was even more foul smelling
          and even filthier. It had no heating facilities. Every day I had to endure more insults
          and pummelling to the extent that one day I even passed out. This was because of
          the injury inflicted to my testicles. One night in the torture room (basement) they
          stripped me and threatened me that they were going to rape me right there and in
          order to be released from torture I banged my head hard on the wall. They forced me
          to confess to emotional matters and relationships [ that I simply had to say under
          duress]. The sound of sighs and screams could be heard from nearby cells where
          detainees would sometimes commit suicide.
          On 18 March 2007 I was transferred back to Evin prison's section 209, in Tehran.
          Even though I was put in the multi-person cell, number 121, they continued to
          prohibit me from having any visitors. They still tortured me both physically and
          psychologically and arrested my family members, whom I was prohibited from
          contacting, as the profanities and insults and beating persisted.
          In May 2007, after months of limbo, my case came before the Branch 30 of the
          Revolutionary court. The interrogators threatened me that they would seek with all
          their power to have me executed or imprisoned for a considerable time. In case I was
          proved innocent, they made it clear I would face their vengeance outside of prison.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 56
          They had a strange, singular hatred towards me as a Kurd, journalist and a human
          rights activist. No matter what was going on they never stopped torturing me.
          The revolutionary court in Tehran announced that the case was not going to be heard
          in Tehran and the case was sent to the court in Sanandaj. When they felt exposed to
          the support I received from people or from human rights associations against my
          arrest and detention, the torture worsened as they got more frustrated and then they
          would increase the pressure on me.
          In August 2007 I was transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence's detention facility in
          Sanandaj. It became my “worst nightmare” and I will never be able to forget it. It will
          haunt me for the rest of my life.
          Even though in law I faced no new accusation, they too launched into both physical
          and psychological terror as soon I entered the facility.
          The Sanandaj facility had a main corridor, off which ran five side corridors. I was
          initially placed into the last cell, in the last corridor. Then they proceeded to change
          my cell - all the time - until the day that the head of the centre, along with some
          others started to beat me without any reason.
          They dragged me out of my cell and then pounded the back of my head until I fell to
          the ground, unconscious. I learned later that they then dragged me down 18 steps to
          a basement and the interrogation rooms there.
          Later I opened my eyes and immediately felt a colossal pain rip through my face and
          head and through my sides. Regaining consciousness provoked another round of
          beating and I was punched and kicked all over my body. After approximately one hour
          of battering, they dragged me back up the stairs and into the second hallway. There
          they threw me into a small cell where I was once again beaten by two security thugs
          until I again lost consciousness.
          When I came to I heard the evening call to prayer. My face was bloody while my
          clothes were drenched in filth and my blood. My face was swollen; my whole body
          was black and blue and I didn't have the power to move. A few hours later they
          picked me up, stripped me then threw me and the clothes in a shower in an attempt
          to clean both.
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority 57
          They put me back into my wet clothes but because my health had seriously
          deteriorated they had me checked over. The following day they took me to a doctor's
          office outside the prison. Because of the injuries to my teeth and jaw I was not able
          to eat for several days. During the nights they opened the windows in the cell so the
          cold would get to me. They refused to give me a blanket so I was forced to wrap the
          filthy carpet around me to keep warm.
          [ In Sanandaj] I was not allowed access to the routine periods of ‘free air' time, visits
          or telephone calls and again and again I was beaten in the basement interrogation
          rooms. I undertook a five day hunger strike in protest but it did not stop them from
          frequently smashing my head against the basement walls. Still, no accusation had
          been made against me, whether in Kermanshah or in Sanandaj.
          The famous ‘chicken kebab' torture was the expression that head of the Sanandaj
          detention centre used and he would carry it out most nights when he was there. He
          would tie the hands and feet [ of the prisoner], throw [ them] on the floor and flog
          [ them.].
          One could hear the cries and the screeches of the other prisoners, mainly female, and
          just these sounds themselves damaged one's soul. They left the windows open during
          the nights [ so that the wails could be heard]. They would soak my clothes [ while I
          was] in the basement, following a series of beatings, then return me to my cell, wet,
          beaten and having to battle the cold. I was forced to wrap myself in the dirty blanket
          that was in the cell.
          I spent close to two months in solidarity confinement in Sanandaj. Yet, in court, my
          case was once again dismissed and I was once again transferred back to Tehran.
          After almost eight months of solitary isolation, physical and psychological torment, I
          had been deeply affected.
          [ Finally], I was transferred back to Evin Prison in Tehran and placed in section seven.
          It is a place where drugs are considered a recreational pastime. On 18 November
          2007 I was transferred to Reja'i Shahr Prison, in Karaj [ west of Tehran]. It is a high
          security facility accommodating violent criminals, those who have committed murder,
          kidnapping and armed robbery [ etc]...
          Amnesty International July 2008 Al Index: MDE 13/088/2008
          Kurds in Iran have long suffered deep-rooted discrimination. Their social, political
          and cultural rights have been repressed, as have their economic aspirations.
          Parents are banned from registering their babies with certain Kurdish names and
          religious minorities that are mainly or partially Kurdish are targeted by measures
          designed to stigmatize and isolate them.
          Discriminated against in their access to employment, adequate housing and political
          rights, the economic neglect of Kurdish regions has resulted in an entrenched poverty
          which has further marginalized Kurds.
          Kurdish human rights defenders, including community activists and journalists, face
          arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and prosecution when they protest against the
          government's failure to observe international human rights standards.
          When they link their human rights work to their Kurdish identity they risk fudher
          violations of their rights. Some, including women's rights activists, become prisoners
          of conscience — people imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their
          conscientiously held beliefs. Others suffer torture, grossly unfair trials before
          Revolutionary Courts and the death penalty.
          Amnesty International has previously raised many of the human rights abuses and
          cases in this report with the Iranian authorities, and urged them to take concrete
          measures to end discrimination and human rights violations against the Kurdish
          minority and to uphold the rights of human rights defenders.
          Amnesty International
          International Secretariat
          Peter Benenson House
          1 Easton Street
          London WC1X UDW
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