Political Prisoners



The Kurdish community remains one of the most suppressed groups in the country, with individuals being persecuted, arrested and in many cases sentenced to death, due to their alleged activism. The share of Kurdish political prisoners remains dramatically high in today’s Iran.


Year in Review (2018)


Just like previous years, the share of Kurdish political imprisonment remained dramatically high in 2018. According to on-the-ground findings of KMMK-G, Kurdish political prisoners represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in the country. (1) The UN Special Rapporteur has also shed light on the disproportional arrest of Kurdish citizens in Iran “Kurdish political prisoners are said to represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in Iran. »


Given the nature of mass arrests that have taken place in response to strikes and protests in Kurdistan in 2018, data collection for this section has proven particularly difficult. KMMK-G’s on-the-ground contacts have collected what they could, information about which is provided in this section. 


According to KMMK-G’s collected data, 828 Kurdish citizens were arrested in 2018, many of whom sentenced to long years of imprisonment and were charged with crimes related to civic activism and membership of Kurdish political parties. (3) Among these prisoners, there are individuals like workers, teachers, Kolbars (border couriers), artists, human rights and environmental activists, journalists, lawyer, students, photographer, cultural activists, and others alike. 


In this context, according to our data (data of KMMK-G), there are 11 civic activists, 2 teachers, 2 religious activists, 4 cultural activists, 5 environmental activists, 1 photographer, 3 journalists, 7 labour activists, 5 students, 1 lawyer, 1 Peshmarga and 84 kolbar (border courier) among those detained. There are also 12 women among the detainees. Most of the reported detentions/arrests in 2018 are in relation to general strikes in Kurdistan, with intelligence and disciplinary forces (Ettela’at and Entizami) cracking down on the strikes and detaining many with the allegations of threats against national security. 


For instance, Mr. Taher Tawhidi, a Kurdish lawyer, was sentenced to 17 months of imprisonment, and sent to Sanandaj Central Prison on January 17, 2018. He was charged with the crime of “insulting the governmental civil servants and spreading lies”. He was trialed by Section 106 of the Sanandaj Penal Tribunal.


United for Iran’s Prisoners’ Atlas: < https://ipa.united4iran.org/en/prisoner/> (English) 

Note: United for Iran’s database reports on 954 cases of Kurdish citizens currently imprisoned.

(3) Please note that KMMK-G has a list of these detainees/prisoners in Persian.  Since turning the list into English is beyond the bandwidth of KMMK-G at this time, it can be disclosed in Persian upon request