Defend International condemned the executions of two Kurdish political activists, both convicted of being “mohareb,” enemies of God. They were tortured, denied fair trails, and forced to ‘confess’ under duress. Thus, the Iranian authorities appear to be guilty of acts of cruelty that are in violation of both national and international laws.
Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man, was arrested in January 2010 in Salmas in northwest Iran. Following a year of torture, an unfair trial and unspeakable prison conditions, Alkhani was transferred out of Urmia prison’s general ward and held in solitary confinement. Even though he was still waiting for the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal against his sentence, he was executed on 26 August 2015, which is a serious violation of international law. He had informed his family about his execution, and his family was allowed a last visit before the sentence was carried out.
On 5 July 2011, two months after his engagement, Sirwan Nezhawi, a 29-year-old activist from Sardasht, was arrested and transferred to Urmia detention center. He was interrogated and tortured for 45 days before being transferred to Mahabad prison and convicted of being mohareb on 11 April 2012. In February, Nejawi was transferred from Urmia central prison to a special section in Tabriz central prison. In April 2015, he was transferred to section nine in Tabriz central prison. On the morning of 9 August 2015, Nejawi was hanged to death in the same prison. Neither his lawyer nor his family were notified about the scheduled execution.
One of DI representatives in Iran who preferred to remain anonymous said: “We condemn these executions; one of them was carried out without any prior warning. Nijawi and Alkhani were convicted of being ‘moharebs,’ which is the worst possible crime in the Iranian religious system of law.”
DI analysts say the new wave of executions is an attempt to intimidate the Kurdish population in Iran. The country has a history of labeling its opponents as moharebs to justify their execution. Many prisoners are denied medical attention for injuries sustained while in custody and they are often forced to “confess.” Despite the seriousness of the charges against defendants, they are denied fair trials. DI has documented executions that were carried out in violation of Iranian law, which requires the authorities to notify the prisoners’ lawyers 48 hours prior to execution.
Defend International and other human rights organisations had urged the Iranian authorities to halt any plans to carry out the imminent executions of Nijawi and Alkhani, calling on the authorities to grant them fair retrials that are in line with international standards.