Iran’s execution of three Kurdish prisoners, Ramin Hossein Panahi (22), Zanyar Moradi (29) and Loghman Moradi (31) at dawn on September 8, 2018, despite serious concerns regarding the use of torture, forced confessions and denials of access to counsel, represents a horrific violation of law and the right to life.
The three men were being held at Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, 32 miles west of Tehran, but the executions took place in the capital, according to the statement by the Tehran Prosecutor’s office that was carried by Iran’s official news agency, IRNA.
Panahi had been arrested in June 2017 in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, during an ambush by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against members of Komala, a militant Kurdish nationalist group. He was sentenced to death for armed rebellion despite repeatedly denying ever using a weapon.
“The security situation in the Kurdistan region has been very tense because of the armed confrontation with PJAK and the deaths of border guardsmen,” a source close to the family told CHRI (Center for Human Rights in Iran) on July 31.
“The Islamic Republic usually tries to impose calm by carrying out executions, and for the past few weeks, some sites run by the IRGC and the Intelligence Ministry have been publishing articles every day in order to justify Ramin’s death sentence. It seems they are trying to prepare public opinion for his execution,” added the source.
Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi (no relation) were sentenced to death in December 2010 for “involvement in the murder of the Marivan Friday prayer leader’s son” and “moharebeh (enmity with God).” The men had denied the charges in court and said they only confessed to the murder because agents of the Intelligence Ministry had tortured them.
Zanyar Moradi said in an interview with CHRI from Rajaee Shahr Prison in January 2017 - “I was only 19. I didn’t know anything about national security and I certainly didn’t have the tolerance for torture. If they had told me to take responsibility for every assassination in Iran since 1970, I would have. I just wanted that terrible torture to end. They had my home address and threatened my mother and little sister. We had no choice. We said we’d accept everything they wanted. They wrote the scenario they were looking for and we signed it.”
Iran has one of the world’s highest per capita execution rates. Death sentences are carried out despite prosecutions that lack due process and Iran has a history documented by the UN and international human rights groups of forcing prisoners to make so-called confessions. Threats against family members are also routinely made to increase pressure on prisoners.