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Repression Of Kurdish Iranians

In recent days, international human rights monitors have expressed concern over the many instances of governmental abuse visited on members of Iran’s Kurdish minority, including journalists, women’s rights activists, and labor leaders. The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders cited the death sentence passed on free-lance journalist and Kurdish cultural rights activist Adnan Hassanpour, who has been convicted of the so-called crime of “undermining national security.” Other Kurdish Iranian journalists detained by the regime include Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, Kaveh Javanmard, Ako Kurdnasab, and Ejlal Ghavami.

Farzad Kamangar is a Kurdish Iranian teacher and human rights activist, who has also been sentenced to death on charges of endangering national security. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch says, “Kamangar was tortured, subjected to unfair trial, and now faces execution. His case illustrates how human rights abuses have become routine in Iran."

Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian government to stop its harassment of women’s rights defenders who peacefully work to change Iran’s discriminatory gender laws. Amnesty cited, among other cases, the imprisonment of two Kurdish Iranian women’s rights activists, Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, who were arrested last fall and remain in detention without charge or trial.

The government’s treatment of Kurdish Iranian labor leaders is also being highlighted by human rights monitors. Mahmoud Salehi has been detained without adequate medical care since last April. Amnesty International says that Mr. Salehi, a founding member of the Saqez Bakery Workers’ Association, is a prisoner of conscience. In addition, labor rights activists in Iran have protested the lashing sentences recently handed down to eleven workers who participated in last year’s May Day celebrations in Sanandaj.

The United States calls on the government of Iran to cease the systematic oppression of the Iranian people, including ethnic minorities. The U.S. is concerned about the growing number of cases in which the death sentence is imposed after trials that were neither fair nor transparent. “The Iranian people deserve liberty,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. “We will continue to work with the international community . . .to focus attention on the Iranian regime’s continued abuse of its own citizens.”