In October 2009, fears were raised that Habibollah Latifi and other Kurdish political prisoners Sherko Moarefi and Ehsan Fattahian were at imminent risk of execution after a judge in Sanandaj, the provincial capital, received orders to carry our their executions. Ehsan Fattahian was executed on 11 November 2009. Sherko Moarefi, was arrested in October 2008 and subsequently sentenced to death and remains on death row in Saqqez prison.

At least 16 other Kurdish men and two women are believed to be on death row in connection with their alleged membership of and activities for proscribed Kurdish organizations. Some have had their prison sentences increased to death sentences. For further information on some of the Kurds on death row for political offences, including those named in this UA, please see http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/007/2010/en and http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/012/2009/en.

Kurds are one of Iran’s many minority groups and live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in the province of Kordestan and neighbouring provinces bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. They experience religious, economic and cultural discrimination.

For many years, Kurdish organizations such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Marxist group Komala, have conducted armed opposition against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Another armed group, the Kurdistan Independent Life Party (PJAK), formed in 2004, continues to carry out armed attacks against Iranian security forces. However, on 19 October, PJAK leaders reportedly called for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue in Iran, according to the mainly Kurdish Roj TV. The statement called drew attention to seven issues, including the recognition of ‘the Kurdish issue’; solving it through dialogue; creation of an appropriate climate for negotiations; end of military operations; removal of barriers to people’s freedom; officially permitting political organisations to work; officially allowing the use of Kurdish language in education sector and other walks of life and the release of political prisoners.

Bombings carried out in September 2010 near Mahabad did not appear to be claimed by a specific Kurdish political group, and were condemned by advocates of Kurdish rights.

Amnesty International condemns without reservation attacks on civilians, which includes judges, clerics, and locally or nationally-elected officials, as attacking civilians violates fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. These principles prohibit absolutely attacks on civilians as well as indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. Such attacks cannot be justified under any circumstances.

The scope of capital crimes in Iran is broad, and includes “enmity against God”, often imposed for armed opposition to the state, but can include other national security offences such as espionage.

On 21 December, the United Nations General Assembly passed, by a vote of 78 for; 45 against, along with 59 abstentions, a resolution expressing deep concern at the widespread violations of human rights in Iran.

Further Information UA: 271/09 Index: MDE 13/117/2010 Issue Date: 24 December 2010

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