On the morning of Sunday 9 May, five Kurdish activists were executed at Evin prison in Tehran, bringing the total number of executions undertaken in Iran over the weekend to 11. The five individuals have been identified as four men, Ferzad Kemanger, Eli Heyderiyan, Ferhad Wekili and Mehdi Eslamian, and a woman, Şîrîn Elemhulî. The execution of Mr Kermanger came despite urgent action appeals sent by KHRP to various UN Special Rapporteurs in December 2008, and again in July 2009.
Although all five were officially convicted of ‘Moharebeh’, waging war against God, a variety of conflicting reports suggest their arrests were primarily motivated by their support for pro-Kurdish or other opposition groups. According to unofficial reports received by KHRP, the arrest of Mr Eslamian for example, was made on the basis of his alleged support for the pro-monarchist Kingdom Assembly of Iran.
With the anniversary of last year’s disputed presidential elections looming, some have asserted that the executions are in part aimed at discouraging pro-opposition rallies. However, reports emerging today have suggested planned protests are due to continue at Tehran University as well as in Piranshahr and Kamyaran. It has also been reported that Martial Law has been declared in the predominantly Kurdish cities of Mahabad and Sanandaj.
KHRP remains strongly opposed to the use of the death penalty under all circumstances. Iran has yet to sign or ratify any of the existing international treaties which prohibit its use, and has repeatedly disregarded UN moratoriums. Moreover, it is the belief of KHRP that the independence of the Iranian judiciary is likely compromised by the influence of the political authorities and security forces, and has subsequently become a tool for the repression of opposition groups.
‘The ongoing persecution and execution of Kurdish and other opposition activists in Iran is indicative of the authoritarian nature of the incumbent regime, as well as their refusal to adhere to international human rights standards,’ said KHRP Chief Executive Kerim Yildiz. ‘There exist a number of other activists awaiting execution, and KHRP urges the wider international community to join us in demanding that the Iranian authorities commute such sentences. Furthermore, we appeal to Iran to abide by international human rights standards, in particular those embodied in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).’