A group of civilians and members of the Nozhin Association have gathered in front of the Sanandaj courthouse in the morning of 20 February to protest the court decision sentencing Zara Mohammadi to five years in prison.
Reportedly, Zara Mohammadi herself was also present at the rally held on the eve of the International Mother Language Day.

Protestors peacefully protested against the sentence and the ban on education in mother tongue in Iran, holding placards with Kurdish slogans written on them, sources told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).

Some of the placards seen in the videos received by the KHRN from the rally read: “No to sentencing without evidence”, “Zara’s sentence is a sentence on language”, and “Education in the mother language is our right and demand”.

In recent days, a large number of Kurdish civilians have also protested against the verdict against Mohammadi through social media.

Zara Mohammadi, a member of the Nozhin Association in Sanandaj and a Kurdish language teacher, was sentenced last week by Branch 4 of the Court of Appeals of Kurdistan province to five years in prison. Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj had previously sentenced her to 10 years in prison.

Mohammadi’s lawyers view the accusation of “forming a groups and association with the aim of disrupting national security” against their client as unfair and unsupported by evidence. They have said that they will request a retrial. Zara Mohammadi also had posted on her personal Instagram account after confirming the verdict of the Court of Appeals that “Issuing a sentence of five years in prison without evidence and reason, and regardless of the facts is the ultimate injustice.”

Zara Mohammadi was arrested by the security forces in Sanandaj on 23 May 2019 and was released on a bail of 700 million Iranian Tomans – nearly 28,300 USD – bail on 2 December after spending six months in temporary detention.

On 13 November 2019, Amnesty International stated in a statement that Mohammadi’s detention was “arbitrary” and called for immediate action for her unconditional release.

The statement said security interrogators had threatened Mohammadi with arresting her family members if she did not cooperate. It should be noted that she was denied access to her medication despite having gastrointestinal problems at the time of her arrest.

Front Line Defenders, an international human rights organization, also issued a statement in recent days condemning the sentence and said they believed “it is in retaliation for her peaceful and legitimate work defending and promoting human rights in Iran and raising awareness about the legal and cultural rights ethnic groups are entitled to exercise in the country according to article 15 of the Iranian Constitution.”
The Nozhin Association, with the official permission of the Ministry of Interior, has been holding Kurdish language classes in various cities in Kurdistan for the past few years. This civic organisation has also been active in providing aid to the flood victims in Lorestan in recent months.