Iran frees kickboxer after two-week detention for raising Kurdistan flag: report

The female athlete’s release came following the “intervention” of the Kurdistan Region and Iranian representatives to the International Kickboxing Federation.
author_image Kosar Nawzad

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian authorities on Sunday released a female Kurdish athlete they had detained two weeks prior for raising the Kurdistan flag after she won a kickboxing match, a rights group reported.

Arezou Miraki, a 20-year-old Iranian Kurd from Sanandaj (Sine) city in Kurdistan Province, had participated in a kickboxing match in the Kurdistan Region city of Soran in late 2018 where the incident had occurred.

Miraki, herself a resident of Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat), represented the Soran Club to face an Iranian opponent from Isfahan. She defeated her rival and, to celebrate, brought out a Kurdistan flag and waved it as the referee hailed her victor.

Following her victory, she returned to Sine two weeks ago and had reportedly been detained by local security forces.

Although no official statement on the matter has emerged from the Iranian authorities’ side, a source close to the Miraki family claimed the flag was the core issue behind the detention. The source had spoken with Hengaw, a group focused on violations of Kurdish rights in Iran.

She had been jailed for “raising the Kurdistan flag” and “posting” photos of the match on her social media page, the source had told the rights group.

The athlete was released on Sunday, but security forces are still in possession of her mobile phone, the source said, adding Miraki also signed an order that bars her from visiting the Kurdistan Region in the future.

Hengaw said her release came following the “intervention” of the Kurdistan Region and Iranian representatives to the International Kickboxing Federation.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany