The Special Clerical Court in Orumiyeh, West Azerbaijan Province, has sentenced Sunni Kurdish clerics Seyyed Soleyman Ahmadi, Younes Nowkhah, Seyyed Jamaladdin Vazhi and Sharif Mahmoudpour to a total of 11 years in prison.
Ahmadi and Nowkhah, teachers at the Salahuddin Ayubi School of Religious Studies in Piranshahr, West Azerbaijan Province, were sentenced to four and three years in prison respectively, while Vazhi, a religious teacher, and Mahmoudpour, the Imam of the Rasoulollah Mosque in the village of Pasveh in Piranshahr, were each sentenced to two years in prison.
The clerics were charged with “action against national security” and “disturbing public opinion”, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned.
The clerics were summoned to the Special Clerical Court in Orumiyeh and officially informed of the verdict on 12 December.
On 23 January, scholars and clerics in Piranshahr and surrounding areas issued a statement saying that the labels of “mohareb” (one who wages war against God) and “baghi” (one who attempts armed rebellion) applied by the judiciary to last year’s anti-government protesters lacked legal and Sharia justification.
They demanded the unconditional release of all detainees, an apology to them and their families, and compensation for the damage caused to them.
On the same day that the statement was read and a video of it was released, security forces arrested the clerics Ahmadi, Nowkhah, Vazhi and Mahmoudpour.
After several weeks in detention, the four clerics were released on bail from Orumiyeh prison.
Earlier in January, Nowkhah was also sentenced by the Special Clerical Court in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, to a total of over 58 months in prison.
The court sentenced Nowkhah to 36 months in prison over “insulting sanctities”, 15 months over “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, and seven months and 25 days for “propaganda against the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran”.