The second branch of the Court of Appeals in Van, south-eastern Turkey, has upheld the six-year, three-month prison sentence handed down to Kurdish environmental activist and former political prisoner Mahyar Ahmadi from Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province.

Ahmadi, who was arrested on 12 September 2023 by Turkish border guards at the border between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Turkey, was sentenced by a Turkish court in Hakkari, south-east Turkey, on charges of “membership of one of the Kurdish opposition parties” in December 2023.

Following an appeal by Ahmadi’s lawyer, the case was referred to an appeals court in Van.

The Kurdish activist’s intention was to travel from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through Turkey to a safe European country.

Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, condemned the Turkish government’s decision and called for Ahmadi’s release in a statement in January.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned that Ahmadi is currently being held in Van Prison and was informed of the confirmation of his prison sentence on 20 March.

Ahmadi was initially held for several weeks in a prison in Hakkari, south-eastern Turkey, and was later transferred to Van Prison after his trial.

Ahmadi was forced to leave Iran and seek refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in the autumn of 2002 after being identified by Iranian security forces for his involvement in the anti-government uprising of Women, Life, Freedom.

In September 2023, under pressure from the security services of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he left the Kurdistan Region and, attempting to reach Europe via Turkey, was detained by Turkish border guards at the border between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey.

Previously, on 6 February 2018, Ahmadi was arrested by Iranian security forces in Sanandaj for his civic activities. After spending two months in temporary detention, he was released on bail from Sanandaj Central Prison.

In April 2018, the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj sentenced the activist to three months in prison and three years of suspended imprisonment on charges of “propaganda against the state”.

A month later, he was arrested and transferred to Sanandaj Central Prison to serve his sentence following a summons to the Sanandaj Court’s Enforcement of Judgments Office in May 2018.