Iran: Supreme Court upholds Kurdish teacher's death sentence

On Friday 11 July the Iranian regime's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence passed against Farzad Kamangar, a teacher, journalist and civil society activist. He is accused of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey. This is a clear case of political discrimination and Farzad needs the solidarity of workers around the world.

On Friday 11 July the Iranian regime's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence passed against Farzad Kamangar, a teacher, journalist and civil society activist for alleged membership of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey.

Farzad Kamangar
Farzad Kamangar

This decision is the conclusion of an appeal prepared by his lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, against the verdict of a lower court. Mr Bahramian said: "... I expected that the five judges of the Supreme Court would at least look at his case. Whether it is the manner of the investigation or the legal proceedings, all contravened the law ..."

All that Mr Bahramian can do now is to make a final plea to the Chief Justice to appoint "unbiased judges" to review the case. If that fails then he hopes that international human rights and other organisations will act to put pressure on the Iranian regime to release this innocent teacher.

The original 'trial'

According to Mr Bahramian, the Revolutionary Court of the Iranian regime passed the death sentence against the 33-year-old Kurdish teacher on 25 February 2008 - with the prosecution producing "absolutely zero evidence" to support its case! The closed-door court hearing lasted less than five minutes "with the judge issuing his sentence without any explanation and then promptly leaving the room." Then on 27 May the judiciary confirmed the death sentence for the first time.

Farzad Kamangar is a teacher at the Kamyaran Work and Science Technical School and writes for the cultural-educational Royan monthly, which is owned by the Kamyaran Education Office. He is also a member of the Easak Environmental Association in Kamyaran (in southern Iranian Kurdistan).

The Iranian regime's security forces detained Kamangar in July 2006, shortly after he arrived in Tehran from Kamyaran together with two Kurdish human rights activists - Ali Heydarian and Farhad Vakili. Since his arrest the authorities have held him in various prisons in Kermanshah, Sanandaj, and Tehran. In a letter written in Sanandaj prison in October 2007, Kamangar gave details about his torture and his family and lawyer have seen clear signs of this when visiting him. He has been admitted to the prison infirmary twice because of the effects of torture.

Mr Bahramian has previously said that the prosecution and death sentence are an indication of "discrimination against Kurds" within the judicial system. It is indeed common practice for this regime to condemn journalists from the ethnic minorities - as well as labour and other activists - on no evidence, then to treat them harshly during their prison terms (or while awaiting their execution) and in jails far away from their home town (or even province).

Public support

A large number of people in Kamyaran, and even the Friday prayers leader in Kurdistan, have signed petitions calling for Farzad Kamangar's release. One hundred and thirty-six teachers in the town have also signed a statement confirming that Mr Kamangar respects the law. As Mehrdad Kamangar, Farzad's brother, has said: "The legal system has no evidence to show Farzad's membership of the PKK."

Farzad Kamangar should be freed immediately and unconditionally and those responsible for his incarceration and torture held to account. Help us put pressure on the Iranian regime by sending a protest email to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President.

Iranian Workers' Solidarity Network
15 July 2008

For further news on the situation of Iranian teachers see the special section.

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