Urgent Action Update: Kurdish Iranian Man at Risk of Execution (Iran: UA 166.18)

January 23, 2020

Houshmand Alipour, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, is at risk of execution after he was sentenced to death on 29 December 2019 following an unfair trial. Mohammad Ostadghader, also an Iranian Kurd, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in the same trial. Both were denied access to lawyers of their own choosing and say they were forced to give “confessions” under torture and other ill-treatment.

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Head of the Judiciary Ebrahim Raisi
c/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN
Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28
1209 Geneva
Switzerland
H.E. Majid Takht Ravanchi
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Iran_UN
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr. Raisi,

Houshmand Alipour, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, was sentenced to death on 29 December 2019 following an unfair trial on 31 October 2019, during which the court relied on a false “confession” which he says was extracted from him under torture and other ill-treatment, to convict him. He was tried before Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, Kurdistan province, and was convicted of “armed rebellion against the state” (baghi). He was also convicted of several other charges including “spreading propaganda against the system” and “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security”, for which he received a total of 16 years in prison. Mohammad Ostadghader, who faced trial alongside Houshmand Alipour, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for multiple charges including “spreading propaganda against the system”. Under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, he will be required to serve five years in prison.

Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader were arrested on 3 August 2018 by security forces near Saqqez, Kurdistan province, on suspicion of taking part in an armed attack against a security base in that city, which they both deny. Four days after their arrest, on 7 August 2018, Iran’s state news agency, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), broadcast a propaganda video in which the men were shown “confessing” to the attack, undermining their rights not to be compelled to incriminate themselves, to the presumption of innocence and to freedom from degrading treatment. Houshmand Alipour has since said that both men were tortured into making the “confessions” during interrogations when they had no access to a lawyer. Both men have been denied access to lawyers of their own choosing and were given access to a state-appointed lawyer only after 31 August 2018, when they were transferred from a detention center in Baneh, Kurdistan province, to one in Sanandaj. They have since been transferred to Sanandaj central prison.

I urge you to quash Houshmand Alipour’s and Mohammad Ostadghader’s convictions and sentences and grant them a fair retrial in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty. I urge you to provide them access to their families and lawyers of their own choosing and ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment. I call on you to stop permitting “confessions” obtained under torture and other ill-treatment as evidence in court, to ensure an end to the broadcasting of forced “confessions” and to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES