Amnesty fears two Kurds in Iran could face death penalty

Amnesty expressed its concerns that the two prisoners could face the death penalty after their forced televised "confessions."

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Amnesty International on Monday expressed worries that two Kurds Iran arrested might face the death penalty after at least six Kurdish political prisoners were executed over the weekend.

On Aug. 3, security forces arrested Iranian Kurds Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader who have been held incommunicado for weeks. 

Kurdish media reports suggest they were Peshmerga fighters for Iranian Kurdish opposition group, the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK).

They appeared on state television on Aug. 7 to make a forced “confession” incriminating themselves.

They have had little access to their families and no access to lawyers of their choosing, Amnesty said.

Both were detained by security forces near Saqqez, Kurdistan Province, on suspicion of taking part in an armed attack against a security base in that city.

Ostadghader was shot and injured during the arrest but has been denied medical care.

Houshmand called his family on Sept. 1, during which he said the pair were initially held in a detention center in Baneh where they were tortured into making “confessions.”

He said the only reason he made the “confession” was to stop the torture.

On Aug. 9, the PAK issued a statement taking responsibility for the attack. The group is based in the Kurdistan Region and has mostly engaged in fights against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

It stated that Houshmand and Ostadghader were arrested after they went inside the base to rescue injured PAK members who had taken part in the attack.

According to Amnesty, Houshmand’s family said both men are PAK members but are not involved in armed activities and had entered Iran to raise awareness about the group to Iranian Kurds.

Moreover, Mostafa Alipour, Houshmand’s father, told Iran Human Rights that his son and Ostadghader did not come to the Kurdistan Region for armed operations, and were forced to confess under torture.

“My son entered Iran with his friends on Aug. 3, when the Islamic Republic forces ambushed them,” Mostafa stated. “The forces opened fire and arrested them.”

“They forced a confession out of them. My son didn’t enter the country for armed operations. He went there for propaganda and political activities, and he wanted to talk to Kurdish people.”

Nevertheless, he confirmed that Houshmand fought IS extremists for four years together with the PAK.

“He only fought IS. Everybody knows that he was only armed to fight IS, the enemy of all humans. He was injured several times. My son and Mohammad Ostadghader defended Iraqi and Iranian Kurdish people,” he said.

Amnesty expressed its concerns that the two prisoners could face the death penalty after their “forced televised ‘confessions.’”

Since Saturday, Iran has executed six prisoners accused of being members of Kurdish parties, and for alleged involvement in armed activities.

Amnesty had earlier condemned the execution of three Kurdish prisoners on Saturday.

The executions began the same day Tehran hit Iranian Kurdish opposition groups with missiles in the Kurdistan Region city of Koya. The attack killed 18 and injured another 49 people.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany