ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, says Kurdish political prisoners charged with national security offenses represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in Iran. This year alone, 199 Kurdish citizens were arrested in the country.
Moreover, Kurds constitute a disproportionately high number of those who received the death penalty and are executed.
According to the UN report, titled the “Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” which was circulated to the UN General Assembly on Aug. 16, the provinces inhabited by eight to 10 million Kurds in Iran are characterized by a lack of economic development and high unemployment rates.
“There are very few Kurdish senior officials in government, and the Kurdish language is taught only by civil society groups, not in official schools,” it said.
According to the report, 828 Kurdish citizens were arrested in 2018, many of whom were sentenced to long years of imprisonment and were charged with crimes relating to civic activism andmembership in Kurdish political parties.
In the first six months of 2019, 199 Kurdish citizens were arrested. A total of 115 were arrested for charges relating to membership in Kurdish political parties, 24 were charged in relation to their civil activities, seven for organizing Kurdish New Year celebrations, 22 were environmental activists, seven were arrested for labor activities, three were charged for their religious belief and activities, and four were charged for managing social networks such as Telegram.
At present, 55 of the 199 Kurdish detainees were sentenced up to 15 years in prison. At least 17 Kurdish prisoners were executed: 14 for murder and three for drug-related crimes.
The UN’s Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the persecution of Kurdish language teachers.
Although there are millions of Kurds in Iran, Kurds do not receive mother language education, unless it is through private classes.
This “reduces the accessibility and affordability of Kurdish education,” Rehman said.
Moreover, the Iranian government also placed restrictions on language education: Teachers need to have state permission to teach Kurdish.
The UN Rapporteur also expressed concern over the extrajudicial killings of Kurdish border couriers. An estimated 84,000 Kurdish border couriers make the border crossings annually due to bad economic conditions in the Kurdish majority areas of Iran.
In 2018, at least 75 border couriers were killed and 177 injured. Among them, 42 individuals were victims of direct shootings by security forces, and six of them fell from the mountains after being chased by security forces.
In the first six months of 2019, at least 42 border couriers were reportedly killed and 74 injured.
In its recommendations, the UN Rapporteur for Iran called on the state to stop the indiscriminate killings of Kurdish border couriers and take measures to regulate their work. The report also mentions that one million Kurdish Yarsani’s face discrimination.
Yarsan, or Ahl-e-Haq, meaning “People of Truth,” is a religious and ethnic minority mostly residing in the Kurdish-dominated province of Kermanshah (Kermanshan) in the northwest of Iran.
“They have also reportedly faced arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention based on national security-related charges such as propaganda against the state,” the report notes.
On Sept. 25, 2018, the grandson of a Yarsani leader was allegedly killed under torture in Hamedan prison after spending one year in detention for alleged propaganda against the state.
The report concluded that Iran should develop policies and direct resources for the economic, social, cultural, and political development of areas populated by the Sunni minority, including Kurds, Baluchis, and Azeris.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany