Detained Kurdish Teacher Falsely Accused of Security Charges, Sister Says
Held Almost Six Months, Over Two Months Incommunicado, Even As Family Has Posted Bail
Kurdish language teacher Zahra Mohammadi has been in detention in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province, since May 23, 2019, falsely accused of “propaganda against the state,” and “acting against national security” because of alleged contacts with opposition parties, her sister told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Mohammadi is a member of the board of directors at Nojin, a licensed language institute in Sanandaj, where she also taught Kurdish. She was arrested along with two of her colleagues, Ribvar Manbari and Edris Manbari. The latter two were released on bail but Mohammadi remains behind bars despite her family’s ability to post bail.
“My sister has been teaching Kurdish at Nojin since it opened eight years ago and for the past two years she has been on the board of directors,” Kani Mohammadi said in an interview with CHRI on November 7, 2019.
“She has not engaged in any activities that violated the laws of the Islamic Republic and the things she has been accused of have nothing to do with her actual work and beliefs.”
“The accusations against Zahra are completely without foundation. She was only teaching Kurdish literature and language. They are charging her with cooperating with opposition parties. But all of her activities at Nojin in the past eight years were with the official permission of government agencies in Sanandaj, under the direct supervision of security officials,” Kani added.
“To prevent the authorities from shutting down the institute, she even made all the instructors sign a pledge that they would not cooperate with or show support for any Kurdish political parties. The evidence and documents are all there, the accusations against her are unacceptable…Despite being under a lot of psychological pressure during the past five and a half months, she herself has refused to accept any of these charges.”
During the raid by security agents on the family home on May 23, 2019, Kani Mohammadi told CHRI: “A bunch of security agents poured into our house without showing a warrant or saying who they worked for. They took Zahra with them and eight days later we found out that the agents were from the Intelligence Ministry.”
She continued: “For 72 days we were kept completely in the dark and we didn’t hear from her for 72 days. We didn’t know if she was alive. Then a month and a half ago the interrogations ended and we were given permission to visit her. At the same time the indictment was submitted to the Revolutionary Court…
“We don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand why they are waging psychological war against us. They asked us to post 500 million tomans ($118,603 USD) for her bail, which we quickly gave to the court but the assistant prosecutor kept making excuses and would not agree to release her.
“Then they increased bail to 700 million tomans ($166,044 USD) and again we paid it but they still refused to release Zahra. We don’t understand … No one is giving us straight answers.”
Kani Mohammadi said her sister has a history of intestinal problems for which she has been under medical observation and had just started a special treatment, including a food regiment prescribed by her doctor.
“But after her arrest, the treatment was interrupted and she wasn’t even allowed to have her medications. Now she’s suffering from stomach inflammation resulting from stress, psychological torture and bad prison food. She was taken to the prison clinic but she couldn’t take the medicine that was prescribed to her. It made her feel worse.”
She added: “Two lawyers who represent my sister have said there’s nothing in her file that would convict her of the charges so we are hoping she will be acquitted. They tried to put her on trial in secret, without informing the family or the lawyers. Fortunately, one of the lawyers happened to be in the courthouse that day and he put a stop to the procedures.”
Read this article in Persian.