Human rights activists are concerned about the fate of Edris Faghighi, a member of the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), who has disappeared after being injured and captured by Iranian security forces in an armed ambush in July, 2021.
Faghighi’s mother told the Paris-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) that Iranian officials had prevented her from reaching her son in the year since his capture, and called on human rights organisations to highlight and resolve Faghighi’s enforced disappearance.
“I go to the office of the intelligence ministry, to the court and to the prison, but they don’t give me a clear answer,” she said in a video message to the KHRN. “Sometimes they say he is here; some days they say he is not here. They say ‘Go, we will call you, wait for us!’ I can’t bear this difficult situation anymore; I have no strength left.”
PJAK is considered the Iranian wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), though the group says the link is purely ideological. Kurdish fighters from PJAK launched an armed resistance in predominantly Kurdish areas of western Iran in 2004, with the group aiming for Kurdish autonomy within the Iranian state.
While hundreds of PJAK militants have been killed in the conflict, Faghighi’s fate remains unclear, as Iranian officials have presented the family with contradictory information.
The KHRN said the Iranian authorities had initially informed the family that Faghighi had been shot and killed during the ambush, but then failed to return his remains or provide any evidence that he had died.
After investigating the matter further, the KHRN found that Faghighi had been shot in the leg during the ambush but later captured alive. The organisation reported that the PJAK member had been transferred between prisons before being moved to an Iranian intelligence detention centre in Orumiyeh, the largest city in Iran’s Western Azerbaijan province.
At least two people have seen Faghighi in the detention centre’s infirmary after spending time at the centre, the KHRN reported. He is in poor health due to his injuries, which have not been properly treated, it said.
Faghighi’s family gathered in front of an office belonging to an Iranian intelligence organisation in February to demand answers about his whereabouts. Security officials detained several family members including Faghighi’s mother, who had planned to set herself on fire in protest at her son’s enforced disappearance.
“I request that human rights organisations find my son for me. It was you who published the news that he was alive,” Faghighi’s mother said. “Get him a lawyer so I can meet my son, talk to him, have him call me, find out if he is alive or not and what has happened to him.”