Mar 07, 2022

UNPO Joins Action Against Zara Mohammadi Arrest for Teaching and Promoting Kurdish in Iran

UNPO is launching a campaign to free Zara Mohammadi from her arbitrary arrest, based on charges of sedition. As part of this campaign UNPO will be immediately releasing an urgent communication to the UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Javaid Rehman and the Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights on her case.

Ms Mohammadi, 29, is the director of the Nojin Cultural Association, an organisation whose work includes teaching Kurdish, and has been charged of “establishing a committee and group that is against the stability and security of the system. She has been sentenced to 10 years reduced to 5 years imprisonment. Ms Mohammadi commented that the sentence was an utter injustice.

Following her initial 2019 arrest, Amnesty International launched a campaign protesting Ms Mohammadi’s arbitrary detention. The UN Special Rapporteur duly took consideration of this case and expressed concern about the persecution of Kurdish language teachers. Several other organisations have since joined Amnesty in condemning the arrest and UNPO is now swelling the ranks.

UNPO has been advocating for a multi-lingual Iran that reflects its massive ethnic diversity. Despite this richness, the actions of the Iranian government demonstrate that they have little time for cultural rights activists. Iran’s Constitution only provides for Persian as an official language, but also stipulates that the use of regional and tribal languages is permitted in some contexts.

However, the struggle for linguistic emancipation is repressed by the Iranian authorities, often under the guise of national unity and security. Education in minority languages has been found to be lacking and the case of Ms Mohammadi shows how difficult it is to operate as an educator of a minority language in Iran.