(Washington, DC, February 27, 2008) – The Iranian judiciary should revoke the death sentence of Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, Human Rights Watch said today. Kamangar was active in a number of civil society organizations.
The authorities should also investigate Kamangar’s allegations that he was tortured in detention, and they should hold accountable any officials involved in such abuse.
“Farzad Kamangar’s case highlights how human rights abuses have become routine in Iran,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Kamangar was tortured, subjected to unfair trial and now faces execution.”
On February 25, Branch 30 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Kamangar to death on charges of “endangering national security.” The prosecution claimed that Kamangar is a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
According to Kamangar’s lawyer, this trial violated the Iranian legal requirements that such cases must be tried publicly and in the presence of a jury. He also told Human Rights Watch that court officials ridiculed his requests that they follow mandated legal procedures.
Authorities arrested Kamangar in Tehran in July 2006 and held him in various detention centers in Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Tehran. Kamangar claims that during a period of detention in Unit 209 of Evin Prison in August 2006, officials tortured him to such an extent that they had to transfer him to the prison clinic to receive medical attention. Kamangar also alleges torture and ill-treatment while in detention in the cities of Sanandaj in Kurdistan province and Kermanshah.
Kamangar’s lawyer told Human Rights Watch that the first time he met his client, Kamangar’s hands and legs were shaking as a result of mistreatment during detention and interrogation. Kamangar himself outlined the details of how he was tortured in a letter written from prison. Human Rights Watch has obtained a copy of this letter.
Prior to his arrest, Kamangar worked for 12 years as a teacher in the city of Kamyaran, where he was on the governing board of both a local environmentalist group as well as the local branch of the teachers’ association. Kamangar wrote for the monthly journal Royan, a publication of the Department of Education of Kamyaran. He was also a writer with a local human rights organization that documents human rights abuses in Kurdistan and other provinces.
Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances because of its cruel and inhumane nature.
“This case gives the Iranian authorities an opportunity to show how they can investigate and remedy a situation where there is strong evidence of an unfair trial and of torture,” Stork said.