Kurdish teacher threatened with execution in Iran

The Iranian regime threatens to sentence Kurdish female teacher Zahra Mohamadi to death on the grounds of giving education in the Kurdish language.

Kurdish civil society activist Zahra Mohammadi, aged 29, has been arbitrarily detained since her arrest in Sanandaj (Sine), Kurdistan province, Iran, on 23 May 2019. She is charged with national security offences in relation to her civil society work empowering the people of Rojhilat (East Kurdistan), including through teaching the Kurdish language.

On 18 September 2019, without prior notice to her lawyers or family, she was transferred to Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj for a hearing which was subsequently postponed, according to Amnesty International which provided the following details on the situation of Mohamadi:

“On 23 May 2019, Zahra Mohammadi was arrested in her home by plain-clothes agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and then held in solitary confinement at an undisclosed location until 31 May, when she was transferred to Sanandaj prison and her family were informed of her whereabouts. During a subsequent family visit, Zahra Mohammadi said that she had been pressured to provide a forced “confession” during those eight days in secret detention. From early June until early July 2019, she had ongoing contact with her family. From 6 July to 16 September 2019, Zahra Mohammadi was held in incommunicado detention and her family was denied all information about her despite multiple attempts to learn what had happened to her. After this period of incommunicado detention ended, Zahra Mohamamdi was able to tell her family that during that time, she was taken to a Ministry of Intelligence facility each day for hours-long interrogation sessions and again put under intense pressure to “confess” that she had been co-operating with Kurdish opposition groups, which she denied. She said that her interrogators threatened to arrest her family members if she did not agree to work for the Ministry of Intelligence and sign a pre-written “confession”. She has met with her lawyers just once, nearly four months after her arrest, and after the second round of interrogations during incommunicado detention ended. Zahra Mohammadi is in poor health. She currently has a stomach-related illness. She also has a pre-existing digestive condition that requires medication, which she has been unable to take in prison.”

Teachers, students and residents in the Dirbesiye city of northern Syria have taken to the streets today in protest at the death sentence threat faced by Mohammadi for giving mother tongue education.

“Bijî berxwedana Mamoste Zehra” (Long Live the Resistance of Teacher Zahra” and “Bijî zimane Kurdi” (Long Live the Kurdish Language) chanted the crowd during the march from Roza Cudi Language Academy to the Xemgin Junction.

A minute’s silence observed for martyrs was followed by the speech of Dirbesiye Education Committee Executive Board Member Sozdar Mihemed who said the following; “Language is the identity of a society and peoples. The enemies of the Kurdish people have always attacked the Kurdish language to destroy the Kurdish identity and culture. We will resist the enemy to preserve our mother tongue and teach it our children. Zehra Mihemed wanted to teach Kurdish children their mother tongue but faces the threat of being executed by the Iranian regime. We, the teachers in Dirbesiye, call upon international organisations and human rights organisations to take action to stop the crimes of the Iranian regime.”