The Council of Civil Associations and Organisations of Marivan, in Kurdistan Province, has thrown its weight behind Chya the Green Organisation’s appeal for the release of its detained members.

In a strongly-worded statement, the Council condemned the recent raid on the annual meeting of Chya the Green Organisation by the military and security forces and the subsequent unlawful mass arrest of its members.

The statement, issued on 21 September, represents a coalition of various civil organisations in Marivan.

It strongly criticised the events that took place on 10 September when security forces stormed the annual meeting of the Chya the Green Organisation.

The Council strongly condemned these actions and called on the military and security forces to refrain from inciting public tension.

The Council went on to emphasize the crucial role played by grassroots organisations in promoting political and social harmony while curbing violence in social interactions.

Expressing their concern and dissatisfaction with the excessive actions of the security institutions, they called for the immediate release of all detained members of Chya the Green Organisation.

In their official statement, the Council of Civil Associations in Marivan declared, “While strongly condemning this unlawful behaviour, devoid of ethical principles, we call on the military and security institutions to refrain from sowing discord in the public sphere. Marivan’s civic associations, which cover various fields and are known for their peaceful activism, have gained public trust and support. Should unlawful and violent actions by the security institutions continue, public backlash is imminent.”

In an earlier statement issued on 19 September, the Chya the Green organisation said: “In line with our organisational goals and annual tradition, we hold an internal ceremony every year, usually at the end of our commemoration of the true environmental martyrs, to express our gratitude for the tireless efforts of our members in advancing our goals and programmes, especially those involved in fighting forest fires. This year’s ceremony was in progress on 10 September 2022 in one of our members’ gardens when, to our utter disbelief, at around 21:00 [local time] we witnessed a widespread and unlawful assault by military and security forces on our gathering”.

The organisation further stated: “Without any court order, in violation of all principles of due process and legal rights rooted in respect for human dignity and citizenry, 28 attendees were detained, and a significant number of members’ mobile phones, along with approximately 36 vehicle license plates belonging to members of Chya the Green Organisation, were confiscated. After five hours of detention and interrogation, 25 people were released without their mobile phones and license plates. However, three members with the names Kaveh Karimian, Madeh Khoshnavaz and and Kaveh Dastan remained in custody.”

As for the outcomes of their advocacy efforts, Chya the Green Organisation said: “In accordance with our organisational, legal, and ethical obligations to ensure the legal and factual status of our organisation and its members, we held several meetings with the Governor of Marivan and the Ministry of Intelligence, and received various promises and sometimes unfulfilled assurances regarding the release of all detained members. However, as of 13 September 2023, vehicle license plates have been returned, but some of the members’ mobile phones remain confiscated. Even two mobile phones belonging to the ‘Public Relations’ and ‘Crisis Response Committee’ of the Chya the Green Organisation, essential tools for the organisation’s crisis management and coordination, are still in the possession of the security forces. Fortunately, on 17 September 2023, at 12:00 [local time], one of the detained members, Kaveh Dastan, was released, but two others remain in custody. Despite repeated requests, Chya the Green Organisation has not received any information about their detention authority and where they are being held.”

Chya the Green Organisation, a grassroots organisation founded in 1999 in Marivan, focuses on environmental initiatives, education and the implementation of projects that are aligned with environmental goals.