Hundreds of people in Kamyaran, Kurdistan province, have signed a petition calling on the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, to use his legal authority to prevent the execution of the Kurdish political prisoner Heydar Ghorbani.

Ghorbani’s lawyer recently said that his client’s sentence was “on the verge of execution”.

The beginning of the letter, a copy of which is available to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) with the collected signatures, reads as follows:

“We, the signatories of this petition, as the people carrying out business activities in the city of Kamyaran, know well the 49-year-old Mr Heydar Ghorbani, who is married and has two children and is one of the tradesmen of Kamyaran. In addition to being convicted in a provincial criminal court, he has also been sentenced on armed insurrection charges in the [Islamic] Revolutionary Court. We know him well, and we know that he has never been affiliated with or supported the armed groups opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

At the end of the letter, the signatories requested from the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran to order a retrial in Ghorbani’s case and reduce with one degree his death sentence on armed insurrection charges.

In the past years, 50 Sunni clerics and imams in Kurdistan province had also written a similar letter to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran requesting the abolition of the death penalty for Heydar Ghorbani.

There is no evidence for armed insurrection charges – Ghorbani’s lawyer

Saleh Nikbakht, Ghorbani’s lawyer, has also expressed concerns about the possible execution of his client.

“The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj has sentenced Heydar Ghorbani to death on charges of armed insurrection”, said Mr Nikbakht, adding that “The condition for committing the crime of armed insurrection is membership in an armed group and the use of weapons against the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. My client has not made any confession in this regard, even in the difficult and painful circumstances he has experienced, and the only evidence to prove this accusation is the claims of the offices of the intelligence ministry in Sanandaj and Kamyaran.”

On 15 December 2020, Mr Nikbakht told the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) that, in addition to himself and his client, 50 religious scholars and imams in Kurdistan province appealed for the application of Article 477 of the Iranian Islamic Criminal Procedure Code, which would result in the judicial review of Ghorbani’s case.

“Fortunately, the appeal was referred from Tehran to the General Court of Kurdistan province, and the Chief Justice of the province is in charge of reviewing the appeal”, he told the ILNA.

However, after the Chief Justice of the western Kurdistan province rejected the appeal for the application of Article 477 of the Iranian Islamic Criminal Procedure Code, concerns have increased recently over his execution.

“The verdict has now been finalised and is on the verge of execution”, said Mr Nikbakht lawyer.

KHRN’s call for action

In a statement published on 26 August, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) called upon activists in human rights organisations, journalists in the mass media, and civilians on social media platforms to do their best to prevent the political prisoner’s execution.

The statement said: “Although the Iranian judicial system, in which such verdicts are handed down unjustly, has repeatedly carried out executions of civilians and activists – regardless of legal documents, international protests, and public pressure – our duty and commitment dictate that in addition to legal action taken within the framework of domestic laws by lawyers and the family, we must continue our efforts through the pressures by human rights organisations and public opinion to repeal these unjust and inhumane sentences.”


Security forces had arrested Heydar Ghorbani, a resident of Kamyaran, in October 2016. They interrogated and tortured him for several months in the detention centre of the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj to make forced confessions.

In March 2018, Iranian state-owned Press TV published the forced confessions.

Additionally, on 7 October 2019, Branch 1 of the Criminal Court of Sanandaj sentenced Ghorbani to 90 years in prison and 200 lashes.

In February 2020, Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj – presided over by Judge Saeidi – sentenced Ghorbani to death on charges of “armed insurrection” through “membership in the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI)”.

On 5 August 2020, Branch 27 of the Supreme Court upheld the ruling, and a month later, rejected the prisoner’s appeal for a retrial.

Ghorbani is currently being held in the political ward of Sanandaj Central Prison, and his death sentence is likely to be carried out at any time.