Amnesty International Says Kurdish Activist “Arbitrarily” Detained in Iran

Amnesty International Says Kurdish Activist “Arbitrarily” Detained in Iran

13:45 - 14 November 2019


HENGAW — The Amnesty International described the arrest of Kurdish civil society activist Zahra Mohammadi in Iran “arbitrarily”, calling for action to release her.

Mohammadi, aged 29, has been arbitrarily detained since her arrest in Sanandaj, Kurdistan province, Iran, on 23 May 2019, Amnesty International said in a statement.

“She is charged with national security offences, in relation to her civil society work empowering marginalized members of Iran’s Kurdish minority,” the statement added.

The organization called for action to urge Iranian authorities to release Mohammadi. It asks people to write an appeal to Mohammad Jabbari, the public prosecutor of Iran, to take immediate action and release the Kurdish activist.

Below are additional information about Zahra Mohammadi, provided by Amnesty International:
On 18 September 2019, without any prior notice to her lawyers, Zahra Mohammadi was transferred to Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj. Her lawyer and family were alerted that she was in court, and promptly arrived to protest the hearing taking place without prior notice. Her court session was subsequently postponed to a later date, though no further hearings have taken place since and the court has sent the case back to the office of the prosecutor for further investigations. She has met with her lawyers just once, nearly four months after her arrest, and after the second round of interrogations during incommunicado detention ended on 16 September.

During the period she was held in incommunicado detention and subjected to interrogations for over two months without access to a lawyer, Zahra Mohammadi’s family made numerous attempts with different government offices in Sanandaj to learn what had happened to her. During one visit to the Ministry of Intelligence office, her family was permitted to speak over the phone with Zahra Mohammadi’s interrogator. According to information received by Amnesty International, the interrogator told her family that Zahra Mohammadi was being denied contact with her family to put her under greater pressure to sign documents and agree to work for the ministry of intelligence and that, once she had done so, she would again be able to see her family.

Since being held in incommunicado detention, Zahra Mohammadi has experienced a stomach-related illness for which the prison doctor prescribed medication, but she has said that the medication makes her nauseous and that her illness continues. She also has a pre-existing digestive condition which requires a special diet and medication. Since detention, she has neither been able to follow the special diet nor take her medication. Her family has requested she be transferred to hospital for examinations, but no response has been given to them.

Zahra Mohmmadi is the director of the Nojin Cultural Association, whose activities include teaching the Kurdish language and literature and other civil society activities. Prior to her 23 May 2019 arrest, Zahra Mohammadi had been subjected to several lengthy interrogations by the ministry of intelligence. The last took place on 8 March 2019, when she was interrogated for eight hours without the presence of a lawyer.

Ethnic minorities in Iran, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen, face entrenched discrimination, curtailing their access to education, employment and adequate housing. Continued economic neglect of regions with large minority populations has exacerbated poverty and marginalization. The Persian language is the sole medium of instruction in primary and secondary education in Iran.