As the anniversary of the murder of Jina Mahsa Amini by the government and the beginning of the Woman, Life, Freedom uprising approaches, the security institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran are carrying out widespread arrests of civilians, activists and the families of those who lost their lives in the uprising throughout Iran, particularly in Kurdish regions.

At the same time, many shopkeepers and business owners in different cities of Kurdistan have been warned and threatened about any action to go on strike and close down their businesses during the anniversary of the protests.

According to the statistics collected by the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), at least 100 civilians have been arrested for political reasons in different cities of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam and Tehran provinces in the last month alone, while a larger number have been summoned to security and judicial institutions.

In addition, the judiciary has handed down prison sentences to some of the detainees from the 2022 protests, while many of those arrested individuals remain in prison with severe or unclear sentences, despite nearly a year passing since the start of the uprising.

Many of those recently summoned and arrested have a history of participation in protests or political and civil activities.

Furthermore, some of the summonses and arrests have been issued solely due to the publication of contents or photos related to the protests on social media.

At the same time, several family members of the victims of the protests have been arrested or summoned to security agencies in recent weeks and threatened not to publish any calls for the commemoration of their loved ones.

Some of the family members who have been summoned, threatened, or arrested in recent weeks in Quchan, Piranshahr, Karaj, Saqqez, and Mahabad are: Reza Babrnezhad, the brother of Mehdi Babrnezhad; Hassan Daroftadeh and Mardin Daroftadeh, the father and brother of Komar Daroftadeh; Mashallah Karami, the father of Mohammad Mehdi Karami; Sharmin Habibi, the wife of Fereydoun Mahmoudi; Abdollah Aboubakri, the father of Zanyar Aboubakri; and Shahrouz Hosseinpouri, the brother of Azad Hosseinpouri.

Security and judicial forces have also carried out widespread summonses and arrests of the families of the victims in other cities in Iran.

Furthermore, the judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic have charged some of the detained civilians from Kurdistan with “enmity against God” (moharebeh), a charge that carries the death penalty in Iran.

These include individuals such as Towhid Darvish, Pouria Javaheri, Keyvan Zandi, Aram Azad, Sardar Shah-Moradi, Houshang Chahar-Gorgeh, Farzad Tahazadeh, Farhad Tahazadeh, Hazhar Hamidi, Hemin Shahi, Faryad Hamzehshour, Reza Eslamdoust, Shahram Marouf Mola, and Ayoub Aghliani in the cities of Tabriz, Kamyaran, Sanandaj, and Oshnavieh.

The government’s aim is to create an atmosphere of terror and fear in order to prevent any form of protest movement on the anniversary of the widespread anti-government protests following the state murder of Jina Mahsa Amini.

These unprecedented protests, known as the Woman, Life, Freedom Uprising or the Jina Uprising, have become one of the largest and most widespread uprisings under the rule of the Islamic Republic in Iran.

Kurdistan played a significant role in both the beginning and the continuation of these protests, experiencing a higher level of government repression and killings.

According to numerous reports from human rights organisations, Baluchistan and Kurdistan suffered the highest number of casualties in this uprising across Iran.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) reported that 125 Kurdish civilians, including 12 children, lost their lives during the protests. In addition, thousands of civilians have been arrested and injured as a result of the government’s violent response to peaceful protests in Kurdistan and other parts of Iran.

In line with its long-standing policy of repression against public criticism and protest, the Islamic Republic has sought to control the turbulent situation in society over the past year through killings, executions, arrests, torture and harsh sentences.

Fearing a resurgence of protests on the anniversary of Jina Mahsa Amini’s murder, the government is stepping up its crackdown with a wave of new arrests and summonses of civilians, activists and the families of the victims, while intensifying its repressive measures.
In this context, the security forces have destroyed tombstones, altered cemeteries and installed surveillance cameras in order to prevent cemeteries from becoming centres of public gatherings, as they claim.

As Kurdistan served as a gateway for widespread anti-government protests during the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, the government is now trying to prevent any form of protest, even in the form of commemorations and anniversaries of the deceased.

While the last few weeks have seen widespread arrests and summonses, as well as threats to the families of the deceased, these tactics are not new in the government’s policy of repression. However, they should be met with a strong response from human rights organisations, particularly at the international level.

While condemning the widespread arrests of civilians and activists in Kurdistan and across Iran, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) stands in solidarity with the families of the victims of the recent uprising and all victims throughout the years of the Islamic Republic’s rule.

KHRN joins the families seeking justice and all protesting individuals in supporting their right to hold ceremonies in memory of their loved ones and their right to street protests against the chaotic and crisis-ridden political, economic and human rights situation in Kurdistan and Iran.

KHRN also calls upon organisations, human rights defenders and media outlets worldwide to keep the ongoing repression by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the spotlight and to fulfil their inherent responsibilities towards the oppressed people under this regime.

Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN)
August 2023