May 06, 2011

Iranian Kurdistan: Execution is closing in on Sherko Maarifi in Iran

Defenders of the Kurdish prisoner seen the acceptance of Maarifi’s death by the revolutionary court of Saqiz city in Iran as an example of the increasing pressure by Iranian security forces on Kurdish human rights activists in Iran


Below is an article published by Rudaw

This news comes in the midst of increasing pressure by Iranian security forces on Kurdish human rights activists in Iran, among them Kawa Kermashani, a human rights activist who was recently sentenced to four years in prison.

Sherko Maarifi is 31 years old and he is from the city of Bana in Iranian Kurdistan. It is said that for a period of time he was a supporter of the Kurdistan Toilers Party in Iraq. After his return to Iran in 2008, he was detained by Iranian intelligence, jailed, and then sentenced to death by the revolutionary court for anti-Islamic activities.

Maarifi’s sentence was supposed to be upheld at the same time as Habibulla Lotfi’s, another Kurdish activist at the end of 2009, but after the visit of Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president to Tehran, Maarifi’s sentence was postponed.

Maarifi’s family have written a letter to the public through which they hope to stop the execution of their son.

“Sherko went to Iraqi Kurdistan to find work. Sometime later he became a supporter of the Komala Party [a dissident Iranian group] but after a while he changed his mind and returned to Iran. He was detained and in a trail lasting several minutes he was sentenced to death by the Iranian revolutionary court. We ask every human rights organization to spare no efforts to stop that sentence from being upheld.” reads the letter.

Maarifi’s family also ask the Iranian authorities to pardon their son. “Forgiveness is one of the qualities of Islam and so we ask the Iranian authorities to forgive Sherko.”

There isn’t much coverage or mention of Maarifi’s death sentence in the Iranian media, but the news has been spread widely across the internet and among human rights activists.

Xalil Bahramian, Maarifi’s lawyer told Rudaw that he cannot comment on the details of the case.

“I can neither confirm this news nor deny it,” said Bahramian. “All I know is that the sentence has been accepted by the higher courts and sent to the Saqiz court. But up to now, no news of carrying out execution has been relayed to me.”

There have been cases of death sentence being upheld without the knowledge of defendants’ lawyers. Hussein Xiziri, for instance, was executed without his lawyer or family’s knowledge.

In a last attempt to save Maarifi’s life, Bahramian resorts to the Iranian supreme leader.

“I am a lawyer to save Maarifi’s life and I will make every effort. I will even ask Ayatollah Khamenei to forgive Maarifi.” said Bahramian.

Bahramian believed that efforts and letters of protest by human rights organization could have its own impact to stopping the death sentence.

“We saw during the trial of Habibulla Lotfi and his death sentence how people’s protestation stopped the sentence from being carried out.”

Saeed Shexi, another one of Maarifi’s lawyers said that he had met with Sadiq Larijani, the head of the Islamic Republic Court about the case a month ago.

“Larijani said that Maarifi’s death sentence was not legal or legitimate, but the higher court had ignored Larijani’s view and supported the sentence.” said Shexi.

Shexi said that according to the Islamic Republic’s criminal code a sentence cannot be upheld unless the defendant’s lawyer has reviewed the sentence.

Recent human rights violations in Iran urged the UN human rights commission to meet in March of this year and appoint a special investigator to that country to inquire about the situation of human rights.

Massoud Kurdpour, a journalist and human rights activist who was once sentenced to one year in prison for speaking with the foreign media, said that human rights violations have increased in Iran many fold. He blamed it on President Ahmadinejad’s policies.

“In the past several years we have seen that in any part of Iran where the voice of dissent is raised or there are people’s organizations, repression, arrest and execution goes up considerably.” said Kurdpour. “In Iranian Kurdistan there is struggle and there are political parties, so the rate of repression is quite substantial.”

Regarding the UN decision to appoint a human rights inquirer Kurdpour said, “It is a good decision which means Iran’s human rights violations is in the agenda of that organization, but I believe it is only important when it doesn’t remain on paper alone.”

According to data released by human rights organizations, in 2008 around 350 people were executed in Iran and that number went up to 388 in 2009 and 546 in 2010.

Kurdistan and Kurd News website writes that in the past three months alone 165 political and civil activists have been detained in Iranian Kurdistan and two political activists have been executed.