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Nearly half of all political prisoners in Iran are Kurds: UN rapporteur

199 arrested in first half of 2019 for civic activism
The United Nations’ special reporter on Human Rights in Iran Javid Rahman
2019-08-18

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SULAIMANI — A newly circulated United Nations report on Iran has noted that nearly half of the country's political prisoners are ethnic Kurds and that they are executed at a disproportionately higher rate than other ethnic groups.

In a report submitted on July 18, but only circulated to the UN General Assembly on Friday (August 16).United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran Javaid Rehman expressed concerns about a range of issues, including the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and women, freedom of expression, and judicial conduct.

Rehman found that “Kurdish political prisoners charged with national security offences represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Moreover, they “constitute a disproportionately high number of those who received the death penalty and are executed.”

In 2018, 828 ethnic Kurds were arrested related to civic activism.

So far this year, 199 Kurds have been arrested, including 17 women, on charges of belonging to banned Kurdish parties, organizing Newroz celebrations, or being engaged in labor, environmental, or civic activism.

Others were arrested for engaging in banned religious activities or managing social networks through platforms like Telegram.

“At present, 55 of the 199 Kurdish detainees were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. At least 17 Kurdish prisoners were executed: 14 for murder and 3 for drug-related crimes,” the report found.

Rahman also expressed concern that Iran has more than 80 offenses are punishable by death, including adultery, homosexuality, drug possession, “waging war against God, corruption on Earth, blasphemy, and [insulting] of the Prophet [Muhammad].”

Iran conducted 253 executions last year, the most of any country other than China, according to Amnesty International.

Rehman also wrote that Iran's Kurdish population is concentrated in “provinces [that] are characterized by a lack of economic development and high unemployment rates.”

He also noted that Kurdish language rights are restricted and that Kurdish is not recognized as an official administrative language and is not taught in schools.

(NRT Digital Media)