KMMK-G Annual Report on the Human Rights Violations in Kurdistan of Iran in 2016

KMMK-G Annual Report on the Human Rights Violations in Kurdistan of Iran in 2016

Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)

2016 Annual Report
January 2017

This report provides a quick overview of the situation of human rights in Kurdistan of Iran in 2016. Furthermore, it delves into issue-specific information and analysis, while highlighting critical forms of human rights violations that Kurdish populations face in Iran. This report specifically addresses executions, political prisoners, indiscriminate killings of Kulbaran (Border Couriers), women’s suicide and landmine incidents affecting Kurdish civilians in 2016. The Kurdish people in Iranian Kurdistan have yet again endured the highest number of executions in 2016 (at least 90 Kurdish prisoners have been executed), blind killing (51 kulbar/border couriers were killed and 71 injured), women’s suicide (at least 65 cases of women’s suicide reported in Kurdistan of Iran in 2016) and landmine explosions (51 landmine explosion victims reported in Kurdistan of Iran in 2016).

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.

Kurdistan, the country of the Kurds, is divided among Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Iranian Kurdistan covers an area of 111,705 km2, comprising four western provinces of Kermanshah, Ilam, Wermê (West Azerbaijan) and Kurdistan, situated in northwest Iran. Their population is estimated between 11–13 million people. Most of the Kurds are Muslims: 66% Sunni, 27% Shi’a and the others are: Yarasan, Yazidis, Qadiriyya, Naqeshbandiyya, Christian and Jew . The Iranian Kurdistan like Iranian Turkmenistan, Ahwaz and Baluchistan suffer a high level of unemployment and discriminatory policies of “the gozinesh” , religious monitoring based on one specific sect of Islam. According to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Iranian 1995 Selection Law based on Religious and Ethical Standards known as the “gozinesh “impairs the equality of opportunity or treatment in employment for persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities .
Despite the diversity of ethnic constituents of Iran, only the Persian-Shiite group holds ultimate state power, and Article 1 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran declares the Twelver Shi’a School of Islam as the formal religion of the state .
The current government maintains the policies of its predecessors and adheres to a system of governance based on the ideology of one country, one nation, one language and one religion. These elements perpetuate systemic and systematic discrimination against and repression of all ethnic nationalities and religious minorities in the country. Governmental participation by members of ethnic nationalities or religious minorities such as Kurds, Sunni Baloch people, Yarasan or Baha’is is severely restricted, preventing such individuals from assuming the presidency or occupying any significant governmental position .

Despite the sense of optimism surrounding possibility of the Islamic Republic’s adherence to human rights in light of nuclear agreement reached with world powers (P5+1 countries) in July 2015, Iran’s human rights violation records remain alarmingly high. Over three years into his presidency, Hassan Rouhani has not materialized his promises with respect to respecting human rights in general, and that of ethnic groups in particular. In 2016, Iran remained among the worst violators of human rights globally. Continuing to limit freedom of expression, the Islamic Republic continued to arrest and persecute hundreds of journalists, artists, activists, lawyers and authors in 2016.

Similarly, the Islamic Republic continues to fear ethnic communities such as Kurds, Baloch people, Ahwazi-Arabs, Turkmens and Azerbaijanis, utilizing various repressive means including imprisonment, torture, and executions to suppress them. The 2016 has a dramatic increase of executions in Iranian Kurdistan. According to our data, at least 500 prisoners were executed in 2016 – of which 90 of them were Kurds at least. Similarly, political prisoners belonging to ethnic communities, and Kurds in particular, are convicted on vague charges related to national security such as “gathering and colluding against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system”, “Mohareb” or enmity against God and for or under the drug related crimes.
This report provides a glimpse into five major state-sponsored human rights violations that, similar to the previous years, resulted in a staggering number of civilian injuries, deaths and immeasurable suffering. These topics include: executions, imprisonment of political activists, indiscriminate killing of Kurdish border couriers known as the Kulbar, refusing to de-mine Kurdistan region three decades after the end of the war with Iraq, resulting in death and amputation, as well as misogynistic laws that in combination with ethnic oppression has resulted in alarming rates of female suicides and self-immolations. It is important to note that KMMK-G has chosen these topics as a way to illustrate the worrying magnitude of human rights violations that Kurdish citizens of Iran experienced on a daily basis in 2016. Beyond that, the list of human rights abuses against ethnic nationalities, and Kurds in particular, goes far beyond the five topics chosen for this report.

I. Executions
The Islamic Republic of Iran ranks first for executions per capita in the world. According to the data collected by the Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G), in 2016 at least 500 people were executed and the Kurds continue to be the primary victims of Iran’s execution machine . 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 90 Kurdish prisoners who were executed in 2016 (See Annex No. 1). Forty-nine prisoners were executed for drug related crimes, 21 for the crime of moharebeh “enmity against God”, 14 for murder, 1 for robbery, 1 for violence and rape, 3 for unknown reasons and 1 for membership in a Kurdish political party. Moreover, the ethnicities of 32 other prisoners executed in Kurdistan were not identified.

The majority of these executions take place after unfair trials and for crimes that do not constitute the “most serious crimes” under international law (that is, for example, the case of drug-related offenses). Executions in Iran have included the execution of child offenders, including at least 9 in the last two years, public executions, and the execution of individuals on vaguely worded offenses, such as “enmity against God”, (moharebeh). Currently, fourteen Kurdish juveniles are awaiting death penalty. 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.

On 2 August 2016, authorities hanged 21 Kurdish political prisoners on charges of moharebeh. KMMK-G and others international human rights organizations (HROs) also observed that all these men had been convicted in proceedings marked by appalling examples of human rights violations, including the use of torture and other ill-treatment, the use of forced “confessions” for the acquisition of falsified evidence, and denial of access to lawyer throughout the investigation stage. One of these men, all of whom were executed for alleged connections to armed activities, was Shahram Ahmadi, who maintained his interrogators had tortured him repeatedly during pre-trial detention, which lasted almost three years. He also maintained that he had only been involved in non-violent religious activities.

On 9 August 2016, authorities hanged Mohammad Abdollahi for his alleged membership in a Kurdish opposition group, though Abdollahi claimed to not be active in the group and had only obtained a membership card.
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 third of the Kurdish prisoners outside Kurdish region in provinces like Tehran (Rajai Shahr – Karaj Central Prison and Qazal Hasar Central Prison), Qazween, Tabriz and Bandar Abbas.

II. Political Prisoners
Similar to previous years, the share of Kurdish political activists’ imprisonment remained dramatically high in 2016, constituting nearly 40% of total number of identified political prisoners in Iran. Out of 1074 documented political prisoners, 401 belong to the Kurdish minority . According to KMMK-G’s investigation, an estimate of 47 Kurdish political prisoners are charged with Moharebeh (enmity against God).

In Iran, there are also prisoners from Shia-Persian dominant group facing execution for security and religious violations. Nevertheless, the members of ethnic groups, particularly the Kurds, are frequent targets, primarily due to the state’s concerns related to their national aspirations. The figure for Persian ethnic political prisoners in Iran is only 14 according to United for Iran, an INGO that documents and collects data on the political prisoners in the country.

In addition, 14 Kurdish juveniles are currently awaiting death penalty in Iranian prisons and their names are: Asso Suhrabi, Nasser Khezri, Amanj Waissi, Youssef Mohammadi, Amanji Husseini, Ayub Shahbazi, Raouff Husseini, Saleh Taimoori, Khaled Rsouli, Assad Rassulnazhad, Yadullah Rahimzadeh, Kayumarth Nassiri, Bahaddin Qassem zadeh and Sirwan Bakhshudah. Four other juveniles named: Hêman Uramannazhad, Naser Khazri, Azad Mohammadzadeh and Siawakhsh Mohammadi were pardoned by the victims’ next of kin in 2016.

Evidently, the Kurdish community remains one of the most suppressed group 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 doubled in 2016 as compared to available statistics in previous year (2015). This has occurred in flagrant violation of Iran’s domestic laws and international obligations.

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.

KMMK-G has received reports of indiscriminate and blind killings of 122 border couriers known as Kulbar in 2016. Iranian border security forces killed 51 kulbars, and injured 71 kulbars. Two of the victims were under 18 years. Ozcan Khudayi Kuran was 16 years old and Hedi Ismaeli was 17. 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 2016, confiscating their goods (See Annex No. 2). In addition, hundreds of horses belonging to Kurdish Kulbars were also shot dead.

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, refusing to ratify the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty.

According to KMMK-G’s data, in 2016, 9 Kurdish civilians were killed and 42 were wounded due to landmines expositions and unexploded remnants of the Iran-Iraq war which ended in 1988. The data reveals that 9 of the victims were children; 2 of them died, and 7 of them wounded with some losing their body parts. Out of the above stated 51 victims, 3 were women.

It’s 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. an area of about four million and 200 thousand hectares has been 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. Kurdish Women’s Suicide

In Iran, misogynistic laws have affected all women regardless of their religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation but oppression is multi-layered for Kurdish women. An alarming rate of Kurdish women commits and attempt suicide, often by self-burning due to socio-economic-political repression. In 2016, the KMMK-G documented 65 cases of suicides among Kurdish women in Iran. 60 victims died following the suicide attempts and 5 survived. The statistics include 12 children between the ages of 8 and 12. Also four victims were 18.

Thirty-three of these women were married, 27 of were single, 1 widow and the marital status of 4 women was unknown.

Among these 65 cases, 26 hanged themselves, 16 put their bodies on fire, 5 jumped, 3 shot themselves, 2 poisoned themselves and 1 overdosed, 1 cut her vein and 6 methods were unclear.

Iranian government refuses to be transparent about the Kurdish women situation and even Iranian media outside of Iran ignores the issue, making research and prevention challenging.

While empowered Kurdish women are the ones fighting the barbaric Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the ones trapped in Iran are victims of nationalistic chauvinism of the Iranian government combined with male chauvinism. Today the Kurdish-majority provinces of Ilam and Kermashan have some of the highest rates of female self-immolation around the world.

Kurdish women, suffering the outrageous misogynistic laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, such as polygamy and child marriage, are further handicapped by the politically-driven underdevelopment of their region, and are denied education and empowerment. Sadly, suicide through self-burning has become a common way of protest and tends to be seen as the only solution to end an excruciating life.

The alarming rate of self-immolation among Kurdish women in Iran is highly concerning not only for this nation, but should be for all feminists and human rights activists around the globe. Suicide by burning makes up 0.06-1 per cent of all suicides in developed countries. In Iran, up to 71 per cent of suicides are conducted via self-immolation, most of which are committed by women in the Kurdish Provinces of Kermanshah and Ilam .

One of the problems most self-burn victims had in common was poverty. In the Kurdish region in Iran unemployment or underemployment triggers a sense of vulnerability and can cause individuals to worry about their future; it also creates a sense of loss and loneliness, especially because of reduced social support; and the lack of health insurance coupled with the deteriorating situations which aggravate the consequences of stressful life events.

Some women whose duties are unpaid and underappreciated – usually household work and taking care of children – experience social and financial dependence. This in turn can cause a negative sense of self and have negative impacts on self-esteem. The chain reactions can lead to, for example, having poor problem-solving skills and an inability to consider the consequences of an attempted self-immolation which include disfigurement, embarrassment, and disability.

The KMMK-G has recently taken the lead in revamped efforts to shed light on this issue at various UN forums such as the Forum on Minority Issues held in November 2016 in Geneva. There is a clear need to carefully depict the contributing factors to this challenge, to more effectively advocate against it on an international level and to seek preventive and awareness-raising grassroots to minimize the alarming rates of women’s suicide, by way of self-immolation in particular, in Kurdistan. KMMK-G aims to further works on this issue in 2017.

Iran has clearly and shamelessly continued to crackdown on dissents and to oppress ethnic minorities, women, journalists and anyone who speaks up against its suppressive measures. In the aftermath of nuclear deal, as Iran seems to show interest in dealing with the Western world, it is the time for the West, the EU, the UN and international human rights organization to force Iran to respect the right of minorities and others.
In the wake of a new era when western states are eager to re-engage with Iran, the Islamic Republic does not seem even remotely willing to stop its outrageous human right violations. Iran’s policy of instilling fear and intimidation among members of ethnic nationalities, in particular Kurds, remained actively and aggressively in place in 2016. Meanwhile, the emergence of the Kurds as an inevitable part of a viable solution to a stable Middle East, increases Islamic Republic’s paranoia of its Kurdish populations at home, despite Kurds’ modest request for equality and federalism.

Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who calls himself a “moderate” and a “reformist” and highlights human rights, has failed to live up to his promises, including minority rights. Even his most promising gestures, such as allowing university students to officially enroll in Kurdish language studies, are inherently symbolic in nature. Regardless, the power is not in the hands of elected governments in Iran, especially when it comes to matters of national security such as Kurdish rights. The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as well as the Islamic judiciary and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), fear even the slightest signs of empowered ethnic communities, Kurds in particular. Yet, the Supreme Leader remains the ultimate decision-maker of the country. In short, despite repeated calls from the United Nations to the Iranian authorities in regards to human rights violations, the Islamic Republic’s policy to suppress Kurdish populations remained as forceful as ever in 2016.

If Iran is accepted as part of the international market as the economic sanctions are lifted, but international community and human rights organizations fail to grasp the opportunity to have Iran make fundamental changes to its laws, Iran will become a bigger power in the region and will expand its tyranny. This is a crucial time and the best time to stop Iran from increasing violations of rights.

(کوردی) ئیعدامی دوو كه س له سه‌رپیلی زه‌ها و

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(فارسی) ٢کولبر دیگر کورد زخمی و کشته شدند

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(فارسی) با گذشت بیش از یک ماه از سرنوشت شهروند کورد بانه ای اطلاعی در دست نیست

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(فارسی) تبعید یک معلم مریوانی به سمنان به مدت 5 سال

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(فارسی) دختر 12 سالە افغان بدلیل خودداری بیمارستان شیراز از عمل وی، جان باخت

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(فارسی) اعدام یک زندانی دیگر کورد در سلماس

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(فارسی) محمد امین آگوشی با دوختن لب های خود دست به اعتصاب غذا زده است

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Twenty-two Human Rights groups condemn recent execution of Kurdish prisoners and call for an immediate moratorium on all executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran


 Twenty-two Human Rights groups condemn recent execution of Kurdish prisoners and call for an immediate moratorium on all executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran


For Immediate Release

Geneva, Switzerland

August 15, 2016


Rights groups condemn recent execution of Kurdish prisoners and call for an immediate moratorium on all executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Iranian authorities must immediately put a halt to the execution of Kurdish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, 21 human rights organizations stated. These organizations also urged for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and a right to due process and fair and public retrials for all prisoners sentenced to death.


Since the beginning of August 2016 until today, Iranian authorities summarily executed at least twenty-four Kurdish political prisoners.

On Tuesday August 9, 2016, at dawn, four Kurdish prisoners were hanged on narcotic charges in Urmia Central Prison in Iran, according to multiple sources including Iran Human Rights (IHR).[1] A fifth man, Mohammad Abdollahi, is also believed to have been executed. Abdollahi was charged with the capital offense moharebeh (enmity against God) for his alleged membership in a Kurdish political party. Abdollahi insisted that he had simply obtained a membership card from the group.

Abdollahi’s execution followed the August 2, 2016 execution of twenty Kurdish political prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, which was confirmed by Iranian authorities.[2] According to multiple human rights organizations, these men were part of a larger group of thirty-three Kurdish and Sunni prisoners subjected to a pattern of severe human rights abuses and procedural violations. Many of these men were convicted of moharebeh based on confessions allegedly obtained by means of torture. Many were held for months, some for more than two years, in solitary confinement, and convicted in hasty unfair trials in which they were denied the right to proper defense and judicial safeguards.

According to a report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country had the highest rate of executions per capita in the world in 2015.[3] The executions have not stopped in 2016. According to the database Iran Prison Atlas, 915 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are in detention as of August 2016 – 390 of whom are Kurds.[4] The vast majority of prisoners sentenced to moharebeh are Kurds. Meanwhile, nearly all executions in the ethnic regions of Iran are carried out secretly or not announced by official Iranian media.[5] Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, thousands of prisoners have been reportedly executed for drug-related offenses,[6] a significant number of whom include ethnic minorities.[7]

We call for the following immediate actions:


  • We urge the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to pressure Iran to facilitate a fact-finding mission by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to investigate the alarming use of the death penalty, including against Kurds and other minority groups.


  • We urge the European Union (E.U.) to call on a moratorium on the death penalty, at a minimum as a sign of good will, in light of its upcoming human rights dialogue with the E.U. We also urge the E.U. to insist on the right to fair trials in all cases.


  • We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to impose an immediate a moratorium on the death penalty.




Roya Boroumand, Executive Director

Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation


Karim Abedian, Director

Ahwaz Human Rights Organization


Hassan Nayeb Hashem, Representative to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

All Human Rights for All in Iran


Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director

Arseh Sevom


Ava Homa, North America Director

Association of Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)


Shahin Helali Khyavi, Member of Board of Directors

Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)


Karen Parker, President

Association of Humanitarian Lawyers


Mansoor Bibak, Co-Director Balochistan Human Rights Group


Shirin Ebadi, Founder and President

Center for Supporters of Human Rights


Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director

Ensemble Contre La Peine de Mort


Ibrahim Al Arabi, Executive Director

European Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation


Kamal Sido, Representative

Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker Deutschland


Mani Mostofi, Director

Impact Iran

Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran


Lydia Brazon, Executive Director

International Educational Development, Inc.


Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Executive Director

Iran Human Rights


Shadi Sadr, Co-Director

Justice for Iran


Mahmood Enayat, Director

Small Media


Christoph Wiedmer, Director

Society for Threatened People Switzerland


Mehrangiz Kar, Chairperson

Siamak Pourzand Foundation


Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director

United for Iran


[1] Iran Human Rights (IHR), August 9, 2016 <>

[2] Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the Attorney General of Iran, has confirmed the execution of 20 Sunni prisoners at Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison on Tuesday August 2, 2016.

[3] Shaheed, Ahmed, Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, United Nations General Assembley ,October 2015: <>

[4] Iran Prison Atlas at United4Iran: <>

[5] Iran Human Rights’ (IHR) Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran (2015), March 2016:

<> and <>

[6] According to a Danish anthropologist Dr. Christensen Janne Bjerre, a, between 1979 and 2011 approximately 10,000 people were executed for drug-related offenses in Iran. Further, in the last 5 years, an estimated 3800 prisoners were executed for drugs according Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For more context, refer to:

– Aliassi, Taimoor, Drug Addition as a Human Rights Issue in Iran: Advoacy and Mobalization of NGOs and Media in Kurdistan of Iran, Université de Genève, June 2013: <>

– Christensen, Janne Bjerre. 2011. Drugs, Deviancy and Democracy in Iran: The Interaction of State and Civil Society. London: Tauris Academic Studies, p. 123-124

– Iran Human Rights: <>

[7] Hhinnomaz, Ota ; Sheeran, Scott ; & Bevilacqua, Catherine, The Death Penalty for Drug Crimes in Iran : Analysis of Iran’s International Human rights Obligations, Human Rights in Iran Unit of University of Essex, March 2014 :



(فارسی) ۲۲ سازمان حقوق سازمان های حقوق بشری اعدام های اخیر زندانیان کُرد در ایران را محکوم کرده و خواستار لغو فوری مجازات اعدام در جمهوری اسلامی

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