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Despite UN Appeal, Iran Executes Three Young Kurds

Loghman and Zaniar Moradi, who were cousins and executed on September 8.

Hours after UN rapporteurs urged Iran to halt the execution of three young Kurds, Fars, a news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGc), confirmed that they were hanged early Saturday morning, September 8.

The three, Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi and his cousin, Zanyar were sentenced to death for armed rebellion against the Islamic Republic’s establishment.

The cousins’ lawyer, himself a Kurd, Saleh Nikbakht also confirmed that his clients were hanged, but described their execution as “illegal”.

The executions were carried out after months of international condemnation of the death sentence issued against the young suspects.

Hours earlier, the United Nations had urged Iran to halt the executions of three.

"We urge the Government of Iran to immediately halt their executions and to annul the death sentences against them in compliance with its international obligations," said Agnes Callamard and Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteurs from the UN.

Panahi, 24, was arrested in June 2017 in Sanandaj after being wounded in an ambush by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) forces of a branch of the outlawed Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an armed separatist organization.

Ramin Hossein Panahi from Iran’s Kurdish minority who was sentenced to death in January for “taking up arms against the country" was hanged on September 8, 2018.
Ramin Hossein Panahi from Iran’s Kurdish minority who was sentenced to death in January for “taking up arms against the country" was hanged on September 8, 2018.

Three other Komala activists who were present -- Sabbah Hossein Panahi, Hamed Seif Panahi, and Behzad Nouri -- were killed in the attack.

Panahi was the only survivor of the attack and maintained he was unarmed at the time of the IRGC’s ambush.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda on April 15, his lawyer, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, said that the court sentenced his client to death for “taking up arms against the state” based on his membership in Komala but provided no evidence linking him to acts involving intentional killing, which is the required threshold under international law for imposing the death penalty.

Panahi’s brother, Amjad, had repeatedly called for his brother’s public trial, insisting that he was a political and civil rights activist, not a terrorist.

Panahi appeared in a short video last Monday. In a hoarse voice, he thanked the people of Kurdistan and Iran, in general, for giving him their vigorous support.

“I would like to deny charges claiming I am a terrorist,” he added.

Meanwhile, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were arrested in August 2009 for the alleged murder of the son of an Imam in Marivan, Kurdistan province. They were subsequently held at an intelligence detention center for nine months without formal charges or the opportunity to challenge the legality of their incarceration.

The rapporteurs have insisted, “They were also severely beaten, tied up in restricted stress positions and threatened with rape, in order to force them to confess to the murder. In December 2010, they were brought before the revolutionary court in the capital Tehran where they were sentenced to death by public hanging in a trial that “apparently lasted only 20 minutes.”

Furthermore, the rapporteurs noted that the Iranian Supreme Court had upheld their convictions, and that the allegations of torture were not investigated.

“During the trial, they both denied the charges in court and explained that they had confessed to the crimes only due to torture following their initial arrest,” said OHCHR in its statement.

According to Amnesty International (AI), the two cousins claimed they were tortured into “confessing” to the 2009 murder of the son of a senior cleric and Friday Prayer Leader in city of Marivan, Kurdistan Province, and sentenced to death in December 2010.

They had been also charged with participating in armed activities with Komala, the same group Panahi is accused of having membership in.