Guardian : Kurds to protest after Iran executions


Kurds are expected to protest after five people were executed. It was unclear whether the executions were designed to coincide with the run-up to the anniversary of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Iranian Kurds are organising protests today after the execution of five people, including a woman, who were convicted of membership of a terrorist group or anti-revolutionary activity.

Opposition sources reported protests were planned at Tehran University as well as in Piranshahr and Kamyaran. Martial law was reportedly declared in the predominantly Kurdish cities of Mahabad and Sanandaj.

The woman, Shirin Alamhouli, claimed to have been tortured into making a false confession. The others, Farzad Kamangar, Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili and Mehdi Eslamian, who was not a Kurd, were described by the authorities as members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which fights for a homeland in south-east Turkey and north-west Iran.

The five were convicted in 2008 and hanged in Tehran's Evin prison yesterday. The official IRNA news agency said three of them were involved in bombings that killed members of the Revolutionary Guard. Each was also convicted of being a mohareb (an enemy of God) – a crime punishable by death in Iran.

All main Kurdish parties have denied that any of the five were involved in terrorist activities. "A regime which relates earthquakes to the way women dress has no credibility when it tries to link civilian activists to bombings," said Kaweh Ahangari, spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Party.

Fifteen other Kurdish prisoners remain on death row in Iran.

It was unclear whether the executions were designed to deter opposition activists in the run-up to next month's anniversary of last year's presidential election, in which the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was widely accused of having stolen victory from Mir Hossein Mousavi, triggering mass protests unprecedented since the 1979 revolution.

Four other activists were executed before planned opposition protests in February to mark the anniversary of the revolution.

Iran has often accused western governments, especially the US, of backing separatist groups amongst the country's ethnic minorities, in Baluchistan and Khuzestan as well as Kurdish areas.


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