Iranian Kurdish teacher Bakhtiar Arefi, from the northwestern city of Sardasht, appears in this undated photo on the website of his Sunni Islamist political group, Call to Islam and Reform.
Iranian Kurdish teacher Bakhtiar Arefi, from the northwestern city of Sardasht, appears in this undated photo on the website of his Sunni Islamist political group, Call to Islam and Reform.

Iranian activist groups say courts have confirmed long prison terms for two dissidents, one a former political prisoner and the other an ethnic Kurdish teacher.

In the first case, Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) published a Wednesday report saying a Revolutionary Court in the northern city of Sari confirmed a 10-year prison term for the former political prisoner, Kavoos Kiani. Iran previously jailed him for three years in the 1980s for membership in a banned organization. 

HRANA said Iranian authorities arrested Kiani again this February in the northern city of Fereydunkenar for running a channel on the popular messaging app Telegram. It said he was charged with disturbing national security and public opinion and jailed for 27 days in the nearby city of Babol, before being released on bail. 

HRANA said a court in Fereydunkenar later sentenced Kiani to 10 years in prison, a term that it said was upheld by the higher court in Sari in recent days. It said authorities denied Kiani access to a lawyer during the proceedings. There was no word on whether he had returned to prison to begin the new sentence.

Former Iranian political prisoner Kavoos Kiani, wh
Former Iranian political prisoner Kavoos Kiani, who was arrested earlier this year in the northern city of Fereydunkenar, appears in this undated image.

In the other case, a Sunni Islamist political group published a Tuesday report saying an appeal court in the northwestern city of Urmia confirmed an 18-month prison term for one of its members, Iranian Kurdish teacher Bakhtiar Arefi. The Call to Islam and Reform Organization, also known as Islah and Dawah, said Arefi had been charged with membership in an unauthorized group and began serving the sentence Tuesday at a prison in the northwestern city of Mahabad. 

Call to Islam and Reform is not registered as a political party in Iran but seeks to reform its government. Iran’s Shiite Islamist rulers tightly regulate political activity and ban groups they view as trying to undermine them. 

Call to Islam and Reform said Iranian authorities initially arrested Arefi, from the city of Sardasht in northwestern Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, in 2014. It said he was released on bail after one month in detention and remained free pending an appeal of a three-year sentence imposed by a provincial court. The group said the appeals court in Urmia confirmed a prison sentence but reduced the term to 18 months. 

Call to Islam and Reform said it hopes Arefi, whom it described as a caring educator with years of honest service, will be released from prison as soon as possible. 

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.