Mukhtar Zarei is a Kurdish political activist from Sanandaj, a Kurdish area in western Iran. Photo: KHRN
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A revolutionary court in Sanandaj sentenced prominent Kurdish political activist Mokhtar Zarei on Sunday to three years behind bars for a video he published last year in the aftermath of the execution of three other activists that called on Kurds in Iran to exercise their right of civil disobedience.
Zarei, 46, who has been in and out of a prison over the last decade was charged with “assembly and conspiracy against national security.” He
to three years in absentia by a judge who deals with security cases according to the Paris based Kurdistan Human Rights Network.
Earlier this year, Zarei was sentenced
to three more years in prison by the 2nd Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Sanadaj for “propaganda against the establishment and insulting the Supreme Leader.”
three Kurdish prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi on September 8 despite calls
from the international community including from the two of the top UN human rights experts.
The executions caused widespread resentment in the Kurdish region in western Iran with dozens of people arrested. Zarei and other activists called on people to organize
civil disobedience such as the closing of bazaars by shopkeepers which angered the authorities and dozens of people were detained.
Zarei was initially detained in July 2018 but released on bail a few weeks later. Following his release, he published an open letter to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei in which he emphasized human right violations and undemocratic behavior which have occurred over the previous decades under his rule.
Zarei released a video in September 2018 calling on people to stay at home as an act of civil disobedience. Video: VoA
Iran has come under increasing criticism from international rights watchdogs and the UN over its dismal human rights records.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Javed Rehman recommended in his latest report published last month that Iran ensures “that all those arrested for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of opinion , expression, assembly and association are released…”
Amnesty International published a scathing report in January describing the human rights record of the Iranian government in 2018 as the “year of shame”.
“2018 will go down in history as a ‘year of shame’ for Iran,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.
“Throughout the year Iran’s authorities sought to stifle any sign of dissent by stepping up their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and carrying out mass arrests of protesters.”