|Iranian Court Confirms Jail Term for Kurdish Human Rights Activist|
The Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) condemns the decision of an Iranian appeals court to uphold an 11-year prison sentence against the Kurdish journalist and human rights activist Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand.
Kabudvand was reportedly given a ten-year sentence earlier this year for undermining state security by setting up a human rights organisation, as well as a further year for ‘propaganda against the system’. He had already apparently received a one-year suspended sentence in 2006 in connection with his journalism and human rights activism. The latest ruling is reported to have been handed down by appeals judges in Tehran in late October.
The former editor of the newspaper Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan (Message of the People of Kurdistan), which was earlier banned by the Iranian authorities, Kabudvand has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since his arrest in July last year. He is thought to be in ill-health and denied access to adequate medical care. He reportedly suffered a stroke in May, shortly before his original conviction, and is also said to have high blood pressure, kidney disease and prostate pains.
Kabduvand’s lawyer has said she will refer the case to the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, after which there would be no further scope for legal recourse.
‘This episode is illustrative of the determination of the Iranian authorities to stamp out dissenting voices and shut down legitimate debate about human rights, especially in instances where that ties in with expressions of Kurdish cultural identity,’ said KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz. ‘In the course of efforts to achieve this, the due process rights of individuals like Mr Kabudvand are trampled underfoot. Iran must instigate intensive reforms to ensure that all of its citizens are able to exercise their right to freedom of expression and can rely on receiving a fair hearing in instances where they are accused of overstepping legal boundaries.’