A Kurdish language teacher and member of a Kurdish cultural association, Seyvan Ebrahimi, was jailed on Saturday in the city of Sanandaj in Iran’s Kurdistan province for allegedly teaching Kurdish to children. Ebrahimi was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison by the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj in early December.
Ebrahimi, who was tried in November, received a 10-year sentence for ‘forming groups and factions to undermine national security’ and an additional one-year sentence for ‘propaganda against the state’, according to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).
A video circulating on social media shows Ebrahimi leaving his family for prison, with his father defiantly declaring, “Even prison cannot break our spirit!” The activist’s case attracted attention because of his association with Zahra Mohammadi, a prominent Kurdish human rights activist, and his wife.
Zahra Mohammadi, the director and founding member of the Nozhin Socio-Cultural Association, faced a similar fate in May 2019 when she was arrested and sentenced to five years in Sanandaj prison. However, she was released on 10 February 2023 as part of a general amnesty granted by the Iranian judiciary to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Zahra’s release coincided with the imprisonment of her husband.
The Nozhin Socio-Cultural Association, which was legally recognised by the Iranian Ministry of the Interior in 2013, is involved in various cultural activities, including environmental education, disaster relief and raising awareness of legal rights and minority cultures.
In a related case, Srwa Pour-Mohammadi and Edris Menbari, two other members of the association, were sentenced to ten years in prison in October. They were also charged with ‘forming or participating in groups or associations with the aim of undermining national security’.
The harsh sentencing of Ebrahimi and others highlights concerns about the suppression of Kurdish cultural activities and the targeting of activists in Iran.