The execution of four Kurdish political prisoners in Iran on Monday has led to widespread outrage both inside and outside the country, provoking strike action. Rising anger against the Iranian government was compounded when Iranian authorities refused to hand over the bodies of the executed young activists to their families.
“The oppressive regime of the Islamic Republic has obstructed the handing over of the bodies of our loved ones and informed the families that they intend to bury them in an undisclosed location,” Joanna Taimasi, the wife of executed prisoner Mohsen Mazloum, said.
Several human rights organisations in the Kurdish regions of north-west Iran, known as Rojhilat, jointly called for protest action against the executions and rights violations. Businesses were closed on Tuesday in the cities of Marivan, Saqqez, Sanandaj, Mahabad, Dehgolan, Bukan, Diwandre and others.
The international community, already alarmed by the escalating wave of executions in Iran, has been vocal in its condemnation. A coalition of 25 international human rights organisations urged UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif to postpone her planned trip to Iran on 3 February.
The visit could be used for propaganda purposes to whitewash Iran’s human rights record, particularly in the wake of recent executions, the coalition warned.
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) executive committee, a Brussels-based Kurdish umbrella group, accused the Iranian government of hypocrisy as it continues brutality against the Kurdish people while attempting to portray itself as a guardian of rights for Palestinians.
“The killing of those who demand human and cultural rights and raise their voices for self-determination is an indictment of the oppressive, bloodthirsty Iranian regime,” the KNK said.
The four men, Mohsen Mazloum, Pejman Fatehi, Vafa Azarbar and Mohammad Faramarzi were executed after 18 months of incommunicado detention and a secret trial widely criticised for its unfairness.
The death sentences were passed without independent legal representation and without the right to appeal. Charges against them included spying for the Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
The executions added to long-standing international criticism of Iran’s human rights record, particularly regarding minority groups, and added to a trend of targeting Kurdish activists and dissidents in Iran.