Ramin Hossein Panahi, a 23 year old Iranian Kurdish man, was arrested in June 2017 for alleged membership of Kurdish opposition group Komala. He was held in solitary confinement from that time until January 2018, when he was sentenced to death by an Iranian Revolutionary Court, on the charge of baqi – ‘taking up arms against the state’.
Panahi’s lawyer maintains that he was unarmed when arrested, while Amnesty International has highlighted that there was absolutely no evidence presented at his trial of any activities linking Panahi to ‘intentional killing’, which is the required threshold defining ‘most serious crimes’ that the death penalty must be limited to under international law.
IADL also joins Amnesty International and UN experts in condemning the catalogue of Human Rights violations Ramin Hossein Panahi has suffered at the hands of the Iranian authorities following his arrest, including: incommunicado detention; denial of access to his family or his lawyer, who he was permitted to see only once before trial; denial of access to medical care; and severe torture and ill-treatment, which was not investigated by the Iranian court despite visible torture marks on his body during trial.
Amnesty International has called Panahi’s case a “breath-taking miscarriage of justice from start to finish”. The Iranian authorities failed to even disclose the details of the evidence against Panahi prior to the trial, and the Revolutionary Court convicted Panahi and sentenced him to death in proceedings that lasted less than one hour. Attempts have also been made by Iranian intelligence authorities to coerce Panahi into making a ‘confession’ on Iranian television in exchange for quashing his death sentence.
Multiple members of Panahi’s family are understood to have been arrested in apparent reprisals for seeking information about his whereabouts in the months following his arrest. Afshin Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Aminpanah and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi have since been convicted on national security charges and received long prison sentences. Ramin Hossein Panahi’s niece, Nishtiman Hossein Panahi, (who is the wife of his imprisoned Ahmad Aminpanah), committed suicide following repeated harassment by Iran’s Intelligence service.
Iran has the second highest rate of execution in the world, and a large number of the individuals sentenced to death by the Iranian authorities for baqi (taking up arms against the state) and other ‘national security’ related charges such as the vaguely worded moharebeh (enmity against God), are Kurdish. IADL unequivocally condemns the use of the death sentence in all cases, and expresses particular concern about its use as a means of silencing political opposition.
IADL’s urgent call on Iran to halt and annul this execution comes in light of reports that Ramin Hossein Panahi was secretly transferred from a prison in Sanandaj to Tehran last week, on the 13th of August 2018, which is likely to indicate imminent execution, as well as the arrest of Panahi’s lawyer the previous week, reported by the Kurdish Human Rights Network (KHRN).
Photo: Kurdish Human Rights Network