April 19, 2012

Iranian Kurdistan: Human Rights Organization Celebrates Anniversary

The Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan has celebrated its fifth anniversary, despite the absence of its founder Muhammad Sidiq Kaboudwand, who is currently incarcerated for allegedly spreading propaganda against the Iranian system.

Below is an article published by Rudaw:

The Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan will celebrate its fifth anniversary in the absence of its founder, serving an 11-year sentence in Evin Prison in Tehran.

Muhammad Sidiq Kaboudwand, a native of the Kurdish city Diwandere in Sanandaj province, founded the organization in 2005 in Iranian Kurdistan; security forces arrested him two years later.

Among the charges against Kaboudwand are “widespread propaganda against the system,” “advocating on behalf of political prisoners” and “opposing Islamic penal laws.”

Other members of the organization have also been persecuted and jailed by Iranian authorities in the past seven years.

Kaboudwand’s organization aims to defend the rights of Kurds in Iran and draw the public’s attention to the execution and mistreatment of Kurdish activists.

“Despite the continuous persecution, arrests of our members and threats we receive, we are still determined to defend the human rights of Kurds in Iran,” said Ijlal Qawami, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization.

In an effort to draw attention to his case, Kaboudwand sent an open letter from Section 8 of Evin Prison to the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki‐moon, in February.

Perinaz Husseini, Kaboudwand’s wife, told Rudaw, “Kaboudwand is in bad condition physically and is suffering from heart and prostate problems. He is also greatly emotionally tormented by the illness of our son and is now enduring tremendous psychological and physical pain.”

Husseini urges Kurdish human rights groups and political and civil activists to help her husband see his son in the hospital, even if only once.

Activists of the Kurdish Human Rights Association urge human rights organizations to consider Kaboudwand’s case seriously and force the Islamic Republic to free him so that “he can visit his son who is currently in a bad and dangerous situation.”

“From the perspective of the Iranian government, our organization is illegal. In court, one of the charges leveled against Kaboudwand was the creation of this organization,” says Qawami. “But the Iranian constitution does not require civil society organizations to have a permit in order to carry out their activities.”

Qawami told Rudaw that the pressure on their organization doesn’t only come from the Iranian authorities. “In the past eight years, we have been under attack and pressured from two sides,” he says. “Internally, Iran is restricting our activities, and externally there are some radical Kurdish groups that oppose any kind of civil and peaceful struggle and they launch personal attacks against our members and impede our activities.”

Qawami says dissident groups outside Iran do not have a clear understanding of the situation there and believe all Kurdish civil and political activists inside Iran are collaborators and agents of the Iranian regime.

“This is indeed an insult to human dignity,” says Qawami.

Following Kaboudwand’s arrest, authorities in Iran cracked down on civil activities in Kurdish areas of the country and executed several Kurdish activists, among them Farzand Kamangar, a teacher and political activist, in 2010.

“Right now, our main concern is to preserve the lives of our members,” says Qawami.

In 2003, Kaboudwand published the newspaper Peyame Mardum in Kurdish and Farsi. The paper was banned after a year and Kaboudwand was sent to prison for it. After his release in 2005, he founded the human rights organization.

Kaboudwand has won many awards, including Amnesty International’s Hellman-Hammett Award. He was chosen as journalist of the year by the British media in 2009 while still in prison.

Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and many other international organizations have condemned Kaboudwand’s arrest and demand his release without any preconditions.

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