Iran arrests Kurdish journalist for not using ‘martyr’ to describe Soleimani: Report
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian security forces arrested a Kurdish journalist last week in what is believed to be the second case of prosecuting those not using the word “martyr” to describe of Qasim Soleimani, a top Iranian general killed in a US airstrike in the early morning hours of Jan. 3 while his convoy was leaving Baghdad International Airport.
Read More: US strike kills Qasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
The intelligence division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested Wahid Fatahi, a journalist from the town of Paveh (Pawa) in Kermashan Province, on an unspecified day last week, according to local human rights watchdog Hengaw. He was then reportedly transported to a destination unknown by the rights group.
Fatahi runs the channel known as Pawa29 on Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging application popular in Iran. Hengaw’s sources claimed that he was taken into custody for referring to Soleimani on the platform without including the title, "martyr" when naming him.
Muzaffar Walad-Beigi, another activist and journalist from Pawa who runs the Dengi Nouriyaw channel on Telegram, was allegedly arrested on the same charge for sharing a news article from a pro-government site, Khabaronline, on Soleimani’s death just after he was killed without specifically calling the general a martyr.
Hengaw reports that there is no legal basis under Iranian law that merits such an arrest warrant but noted that the security forces had briefly detained Walad-Beigi in 2019 on charges that were unclear. Iranian authorities often arrest Kurdish activists and journalists on vague charges of aiding opposition groups.
Arrests made on the basis of allegedly cooperating with Kurdish opposition groups have been commonplace for years, but increased in November, with hundreds suspected to have been captured amid a brutal crackdown campaign to suppress nationwide protests sparked by a tripling of government-regulated fuel prices.
Read More: Iran says it has arrested leaders of ‘unrest’ in ongoing protest crackdown
Hengaw has written about several individuals who have allegedly died while in government custody. Two weeks earlier, the group reported that security forces had handed over the body of Nadir Rezaei—a Kermashan city resident who was arrested after participating in the demonstrations—to his family in late December.
According to the rights group, Rezaei's body showed signs consistent with torture as the cause of death.
Editing by John J. Catherine