Harsh Sentence Upheld For Iranian Kurdish Activist While Brother Awaits Appeal on Death Sentence
An Appeals Court has upheld the eight-year prison sentence issued against Iranian Kurdish civil rights activist Afshin Hossein Panahi for the charge of “propaganda against the state” and “collaboration with a Kurdish opposition group.”
One of his brothers told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that after agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ambushed his brothers in a shootout, almost all of his family members were detained, including one brother who is currently waiting to find out whether the Appeals Court will uphold his death sentence.
“My brother Afshin was arrested along with three other relatives on suspicion of connections with Komala [armed separatist organization] but during interrogations, it became clear that they have no ties with the group,” Amjad Hossein Panahi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 27, 2018.
“So instead, the court sentenced him to eight and a half years in prison for his past civil activities, such as holding a Nowruz [Persian New Year] ceremony in Kurdistan [province in Iran] in 2017 and promoting Komala, a sentence that has now been upheld by the Appeals Court,” he added.
He continued: “The IRGC had carried out a surprise attack and opened fire without warning. Since then, nearly every member of the family—brothers, sisters, brother-in-laws—have been detained, interrogated or threatened.”
“My brother Ramin has been sentenced to death, Afshin sentenced to 8.5 years in prison, my cousin Zubair Hossein Panahi sentenced to six years in prison and our brother-in-law Ahmad Aminpanah sentenced to five years in prison, all because one person was a member of a political party,” he added.
Afshin Hossein Panahi was arrested at his family’s home in late June 2017 following an ambush by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against members of Komala in Sanadaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province, on June 23, 2017. His brother, Ramin Hossein Panahi, was wounded and three other Kurdish activists—Sabah Hossein Panahi, Hamed Seif Panahi, and Behzad Nouri—were killed at the time.
On January 25, 2018, Ramin Hossein Panahi was sentenced to death by a preliminary court in Sanandaj for being a member of Komala and drawing his weapon. He is awaiting a decision on his appeal.
“Among us, only Ramin was a Komala member,” Amjad Hossein Panahi told CHRI. “But it has become clear he was not armed at the time of the confrontation when he was arrested.”
Describing itself as the “vanguard party of the liberating movement of the Kurdish nation,” Komala is a banned, armed socialist group in Iran claiming to be fighting for “freedom, and legitimate political and cultural rights” for Iran’s Kurdish minority population.