Bi-annual Summary Report for the Attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights for Iran

Bi-annual Summary Report for the Attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights for Iran
Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)
June 2017

This report provides a follow-up of the situation of human rights in Kurdistan of Iran in the first five months of 2017 for the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

The current Islamic Republic administration pledged to improve and reconsider its security approach toward Iranian Kurdistan both during the first round of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, as well as during his victorious presidential campaign, which took place in early months of 2017. Nevertheless, the persecution, execution and indiscriminate and blind killings of Kulbaran (border couriers) remain alarmingly high, with the Islamic Republic justifying much of which under the pretexts of guarding the country’s security. This report specifically addresses executions, political prisoners, indiscriminate killings of Kulbaran (Border Couriers), and landmine incidents affecting Kurdish civilians from January 1, 2017 to May 10, 2017.
The Kurdish people in Iranian Kurdistan have yet again endured the highest number of executions in the first five months of this year from January 1, 2017 till May 10, 2017; at least 29 Kurdish prisoners have been executed, 30 kulbar/border couriers were reported killed and 60 injured, and 4 landmine explosion fatalities and 11 landmine injuries were reported in Kurdistan of Iran.

KMMK-G provides the details of data collected in each aforementioned category in its yearly human rights violations in Kurdistan report, and not in its bi-annual updates (such as this document). Nevertheless, KMMK-G can make the detailed data for this document available upon the request of the Special Rapporteur’s office, and/or any other relevant entities.

I. Executions
According to the data collected by the Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G), for the period of January 1 to May 10, 2017, at least 29 Kurdish prisoners were executed. In this regard, despite secrecy surrounding executions, and the government’s refusal to publish the names and the ethnicity or whereabouts of the executed prisoners, KMMK-G has been able to identify the names of at least some of those executed.

According to KMMK-G’s collected data, at least 29 Kurdish prisoners who were executed in the first half of this year, until May 10, 2017. According to the data collected, 17 prisoners were executed for drug-related crimes, 10 for murder, and 2 for the crime of moharebeh “enmity against God”.

The majority of these executions take place after unfair trials and for crimes that do not constitute the “most serious crimes” under international law. In this context, drug-related offenses and the execution of individuals on vaguely worded offenses, such as moharebeh or “enmity against God” are examples of insufficient and unfair forms of crime formulation. The Kurdish prisoners face unfair trial and are often convicted in proceedings marked by a pattern of alleged abuses including the use of confessions driven under torture and denial of access to a lawyer.

Proportional to the population of Iran, the number of Kurdish executions is dramatically high. Likely in order to deter any collective resistance, the Islamic Republic executed more than one fifth of the Kurdish prisoners outside Kurdish region in provinces like Qazween, Hamedan and Rasht.

II. Political Prisoners
Similar to previous years, the share of Kurdish political imprisonment remains dramatically high in first half of 2017 (until May 10, 2017). According to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran published on March 17, 2017, Kurdish political prisoners are said to represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in the country.

According to KMMK-G’s collected data, 207 Kurdish citizens were arrested from January 1 till May 10, 2017, many of whom sentenced to long years of imprisonment and were charged with crimes related to civic activism and membership of Kurdish political parties. Among these prisoners, there are individuals who are workers, teachers, Koulbars (border couriers), artists, and human rights activists, etc.

Evidently, the Kurdish community remains one of the most suppressed groups in the country, with individuals being persecuted, arrested and in many cases sentenced to death, due to their alleged activism.
III. Indiscriminate Killings of Kulbaran
Even though the current Islamic Republic administration pledged to change its security approach toward Iranian Kurdistan, the indiscriminate killings of Kurdish Kulbaran (border couriers or tradesmen) has dramatically increased in first half of 2017, as compared to available statistics in previous year (2016). The indiscriminate and blind killing of Kurdish Kulbaran takes place in blatant violation of Iran’s domestic laws and international obligations.

KMMK-G has received reports of indiscriminate and blind killings of 90 border couriers known as Kulbar in the first five months of 2017. Iranian border security forces killed 30 kulbars, and injured 60 kulbars.

Border security forces involved in indiscriminate and blind killings do not respect Iranian domestic laws, which authorize the use of lethal force only as a last resort. Moreover, authorities arrested a significant number of kulbaran in 2017, confiscating their goods. In addition, hundreds of horses belonging to Kurdish Kulbars were also shot dead.
Due to high rates of unemployment, and land contamination caused by landmines and explosive remnants of the Iran-Iraq war that hamper seriously the daily life of civilians particularly the farmers, the nomads, the shepherds and traders, the Kurdish youth and farmers from four Kurdish provinces of Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Ilam and Wermê (West Azerbaijan) engage in smuggling commodities, such as tea, tobacco and fuel to earn a living.

IV. Landmine Incidents Affecting Kurdish Civilians
Various international bodies and entities such as the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Iran (2010) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (January 2016) have made observations and recommendations, urging the Islamic Republic to clear its territory of landmines and all the remnants of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). Nevertheless, despite international and domestic efforts, the Islamic Republic refuses to cooperate with international NGOs and entities, and to ratify the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty.

According to KMMK-G’s data, thus far in this year (January 1, 2017 till May 10, 2017), 4 Kurdish civilians were killed and 11 were wounded due to landmines expositions and unexploded remnants of the Iran-Iraq war, which ended a long time ago in 1988.

It is also important to note that according to Iranian official statistics, during to eight years-long Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), more than 20 million landmines have been planted in Iranian Kurdistan and Khuzestan province that hamper seriously the daily life of civilians particularly the farmers, the nomads, the shepherds and traders. Essentially, an area of about 4 million and 200 thousand hectares is contaminated by mines and explosive materials.

The Iranian Kurdistan is the most affected area by landmines and undetonated ammunitions. The reason for this was armed conflict of 1980-1993 between government forces and Kurdish combatants. Reportedly, the Iranian Army planted unknown number of mines around their barracks and compounds in many villages and cities in Kurdistan.

V. Methodology
The Iranian authorities refuse to provide accurate data on executions, landmines, Kulbaran (border couriers) and other issues. In order to get the most credible data, KMMK-G collects and verifies up-to-date information in the following ways: (a) conducting interviews with the family of the victims, (b) conducting interviews with the lawyers of the victims, (c) contacting and receiving information from various institution, on-the-ground local networks, as well as informants within authorities and governmental entities, (d) monitoring the Islamic Republic’s official statements, state media and publications, (e) receiving information from informal news agencies, and (f) partnering with the Human Rights Section of Kurdpa News Agency in obtaining on-the-ground information.

About KMMK-G
The Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran – Geneva (KMMK-G) was established in 2006 to promote democracy, respect for human rights, and social development in and beyond Iranian Kurdistan. KMMK-G strives to serve as a bridge between the Kurdish and Iranian civil society on the one hand and the United Nations agencies and International institutions on the other. Since its inception, KMMK-G has actively participated in every session of the UN Human Rights Council and other relevant UN human rights mechanisms, including the Forum on Minority Issues. Over the years, the Association has frequently submitted reports on human rights situation in Iran’s Kurdistan to various UN treaty bodies and in various UN Committees’ meetings. KMMK-G has regular media outreach to Kurdish and Persian media and sponsors cultural events for the Kurdish community in Europe.

As a part of its advocacy efforts, KMMK-G is hosting regularly panels and seminars in Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva and as well as at the Swiss and EU Parliaments to promote the rights of ethnic groups in Iran. Recently, the group partnered with Geneva Graduate University and Impact Iran to organize a workshop on the rights of Iran’s ethnic groups and also a panel at Human Rights Council with the participation of the UN Special Rapporteur for Iran and Madam Shirin Ebadi the Peace Nobel Laureate.

KMMK-G prepares annual human rights in Kurdistan of Iran reports, and provides detailed annexes of data collected to the office of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, as well as other relevant entities along with its annual reports. Click here for its 2016 report.

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