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Iran Executes 3 Kurdish Activists, Sources Say


Ameneh Ghaderi, mother of detained Iranian Kurdish activist Zaniar Moradi, and Amjad Hossein Panahi, brother of detained Iranian Kurdish activist, Ramin Hossein Panahi, make a statement from Marivan, Iran, on September 7, 2018.

Iran has executed three Iranian Kurdish activists who had been operating in that country, local media and the brother of one of the men report.

Ramin Hossein Panahi and cousins Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi were executed on Saturday, according to multiple sources, including a brother of Panahi and Iran's conservative Fars news agency.

The Iran Human Rights group is condemning the executions. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for IHR, said: "Zaniar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were all subjected to torture and sentenced to death following unfair trials based on forced confessions. Their execution is a crime and the Iranian authorities, including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, must be held accountable for this crime.”

In a video message filmed on Friday and sent exclusively to VOA Persian, the mother of one of the jailed men and the brother of Panahi issued a joint appeal to the international community to stop Iran from carrying out imminent executions of all three detainees.

The video was filmed in the northwestern Iranian city of Marivan at the home of Ameneh Ghaderi, mother of Zaniar Moradi. Ramin Hossein Panahi's brother Amjad Hossein Panahi appeared in the video, sitting alongside Ghaderi.

Video message from relatives of Iranian Kurdish activists sentenced to death, broadcasted on VOA Persian’s NewsHour program:

Speaking to the camera, Amjad Hossein Panahi said he and Ghaderi received a message that authorities wanted family members to visit the three men immediately at Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj, on the western outskirts of Tehran. “We heard unfortunate news that when family members come to see Zaniar and Loghman, it would be the last meeting, while there has been no news about Ramin since Thursday,” he said. “We were told from various sources that they were going to be hanged either Friday night or Saturday morning.”

Ghaderi said that for the past two days, she has heard warnings that authorities were going to execute the young men. “Please, don’t let them execute our children,” she said.

In a Friday statement, the Britain-based rights group Amnesty International called on Iran to “immediately halt” the planned executions of Zaniar and Loghman Moradi. The two cousins had spent eight years on death row since confessing to a 2009 killing of the son of a Muslim cleric in Marivan — a confession that both men later said was extracted under torture, according to Amnesty. The rights group said Rajaei Shahr prison authorities moved the cousins from a general ward to solitary confinement on Wednesday and telephoned the men’s families on Thursday, instructing the relatives to visit the detainees immediately. It said those moves sparked fears that their executions were imminent.

Amnesty said Ramin Hossein Panahi began a hunger strike at Rajaei Shahr prison on August 26 by sewing his lips together in protest at his death sentence. It said he was immediately removed from the prison’s general ward and had not been heard from since, prompting concerns that he also was at imminent risk of execution.

Panahi was sentenced to death in January for allegedly drawing a weapon against Iranian security forces operating in northwestern Iran’s predominantly ethnic Kurdish region in June 2017. He confessed to taking up arms against the state, but Amnesty said family members who saw him in court believe he also was tortured into confessing because of apparent torture marks on his body.

Iranian authorities also charged all three men with being members of Komala, a Kurdish nationalist group banned in Iran. Amnesty denounced their trials as “grossly unfair” proceedings that lasted less than an hour.

A provincial Iranian state TV station, Network 5, broadcasted a report on Friday, quoting Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) as saying family members of the Moradi cousins were concerned that the two men could be executed on Saturday. But there had been no recent comment from Iranian officials in state media about the situation of the three Kurdish activists.

“We ask of whoever is listening, do not leave us alone at this crucial moment,” Amjad Hossein Panahi said, as he concluded the video message. “Defend Zaniar, Loghman and Ramin. Your efforts could lead to a stay of execution.”

This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service.

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