KHRN: Iran sentences female activist to five years in prison for teaching Kurdish

An Iranian court has sentenced Kurdish female civil rights activist Zahra Mohammadi to five years in prison for teaching Kurdish language in the Kurdish region of Iran, sources have told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).

On 16 February 2020, Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj – presided over by Judge Saeidi – had sentenced Zahra Mohammadi to 10 years in prison on the charge of “forming groups and societies with the aim of disrupting national security”. Her lawyer was informed of the verdict in July.

However, in October 2020, Branch 4 of the Court of Appeals of Sanandaj dropped Mohammadi’s sentence to five years. She was informed of this verdict in the past few days.

Mohammadi published a post on her Instagram account on 13 February 2021, drawing attention to the unfairness of the sentence and said: “Issuing a sentence of five years in prison without evidence and regardless of the facts, is utterly unjust.”

Zahra Mohammadi is a civil rights activist and director of the Nozhin Socio-Cultural Association. Her activities include teaching Kurdish language and literature, and other activities related to civil society. She was arrested by the security forces in Sanandaj on 23 May 2019 and was released on 2 December 2019 on a bail of 700 million Iranian Tomans – nearly 16,700 USD at the time.

On 13 November 2019, Amnesty International stated in a statement that Mohammadi’s detention was “arbitrary” and called for immediate action for her unconditional release.

The statement said security interrogators had threatened Mohammadi with arresting her family members if she did not cooperate. It should be noted that she was denied access to her medication despite having gastrointestinal problems at the time of her arrest.

The Nozhin Association, with the official permission of the Ministry of Interior, has been holding Kurdish language classes in various cities in Kurdistan for the past few years. This civic organisation has also been active in providing aid to the flood victims in Lorestan in recent months.