Iranian Kurd held in Erbil for two years without trial by KDP-affiliated force, say family, MP

Hussein Abulrahman Mheidin Danshmand (NRT Digital Media)

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SULAIMANI — A man from Iranian Kurdistan has been held in the custody of security forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) without trial for more than two years, his family and a lawmaker in the Kurdistan Parliament have said.

Originally a resident of Baneh city in Iran’s Kurdistan province, Hussein Abulrahman Mheidin Danshmand was sentenced to ten years in prison in Iran after being convicted by a court there on spying charges. Four years into his sentence, he was released on bail after his family put their home up as collateral.

Upon his release in 2018, he fled to the Erbil in the Kurdistan Region and attempted to contact the United Nations for assistance, but was arrested by the local security forces, reportedly on espionage charges.

With the 45-year-old and father of two still in custody and no sign that his case will be brought to trial, his family has reached out to parliamentarians in an effort to secure his release.

His sister Runak told NRT in a phone call that they have not seen the full charges or heard the nature of the evidence against Danshmand.

“It is only right to analyze for us the [charges] with evidence to show that he has made a mistake or he has committed espionage or spying or whatever he has done,” she said, adding that Danshmand has always maintained his innocence.

Speaking to NRT, she insinuated that his activities in Iran had been on behalf of the KDP and that part of his reason for coming to Erbil was to seek compensation, though she offered no concrete evidence to support that claim.

Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) lawmaker Abubakir Haladny said that MPs had been made aware of the case and lamented that there has been no movement on the issue.

“We have given a memorandum to the Kurdistan Parliament and I myself directed written documents to the relevant authorities in February, but I have not received any reply,” he said.

Human rights activist Emad Hamid called for Danshmand’s case to be handled according to the law.

“There should be legal procedures…not partisan ones,” he said.

Reports of ill-treatment of people fleeing the Iranian authorities by the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) often triggers significant controversy, with commentators arguing that the Region’s authorities should do more to protect them.

In March, it was alleged that Mustafa Salimi escaped from Saqquez prison in Iran and fled over the border, only to be arrested in Penjwen and returned to Iranian custody where he was executed.

The security forces affiliated with the PUK strongly denied that he ever made it into the Kurdistan Region, as did the Iranian authorities, but popular reaction to the possibility was strongly negative.

In the wake of the incident, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) formed a committee to investigate the case, but the results of its work have not been released.

(NRT Digital Media)