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Kurdish teacher and writer executed at Evin prison

(WiPC/IFEX) - In a letter to Ayatollah 'Ali Khamenei, The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN condemned the recent execution of five Kurdish activists, including teacher and writer Farzad Kamangar:

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street
End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

18 May 2010

Your Excellency,

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN, the world association of writers representing members in 104 countries, condemns the recent execution of five Kurdish activists including teacher and writer Farzad Kamangar, in gross violation of Iranian law as well as international standards of fairness.

According to PEN's information, Farzad Kamangar was among five Kurdish activists to be hanged at dawn on 9 May 2010 in Tehran's Evin prison on alleged terrorism charges. Kamangar had been detained since May 2006 and was sentenced to death by a revolutionary court in February 2008 following a trial lasting around five minutes. He had been ill-treated in detention. He repeatedly denied prosecutors' allegations of involvement with a Kurdish nationalist group, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), and his lawyer Khalil Bahramian asserts that there was no evidence to support the charges and that the revolutionary court which sentenced Kamangar acted arbitrarily, in gross violation of the Iranian constitution. He also claims that Kamangar was executed before his appeal had been heard and without prior notification, in violation of procedure. It is widely believed that Kamangar was targeted for his non-violent political activism. The executions appear to be an attempt to intimidate members of the Kurdish minority and other critics and opponents of the government in the run up to the first anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election on 12 June.

International PEN is alarmed at the number of Kurdish journalists and writers targeted for their critical reporting, peaceful activism and writings in support of minority cultural and political rights, and is appalled at the use of the death penalty in such cases. It reminds the Iranian authorities of their obligations to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Iran for peacefully exercising their right to free expression.

We would welcome your comments on this matter.

Marian Botsford Fraser
International PEN Writers in Prison Committee

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