May 20, 2022

UNPO Submits To UN Zara Mohammadi Case Following Imprisonment for Teaching Kurdish in Iran


The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, together with Kurdistan Human Rights Association-Geneva (KMMK-G) has written a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Dr Javaid Rehman on the case of Zara Mohammadi, a Kurdish woman who was imprisoned for promoting the teaching the Kurdish language. Both UNPO and KMMK-G are hoping with this submission to shed light on use of arbitrary detention to intimidate minority rights activists in Iran.

Zara Mohammadi, 29, was arrested initially in 2019 and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for heading an organisation, the Nojin Cultural Association. She was detained by plain-clothes agents believed to be from Iran's internal security intelligence service, based on charges related to national security violations. Her transfer to court and sentencing was done without prior notification of her family and legal team. 

 Amnesty International initially launched a campaign for her release, with UNPO joining them and several other organisations calling for her release. It is believed that Ms Mohammadi is in poor health without access to medication in prison. The urgency of her release is thus paramount. 

Ms Mohammadi was director of the Nojin Cultural Association, an organisation set up to promote the teaching of the Kurdish language in Iran amongst other activities. She had already been under scrutiny by intelligence officers in Iran in the lead up to her arrest according to Amnesty International. 

Iran has so far ignored any request by civil society to justify further their arrest or release Ms Mohammadi. It follows an aknowledgment by Amnesty International and other leading human rights groups that minorities in Iran are the number one target of arbtirary detentions and overrepresented in death penalty sentences.  

The Zara Mohammadi case is also part of UNPO’s broader struggle for a multilingual inclusive Iran. The Islamic Republic has traditionally shunned minority rights in its own country favouring a policy of assimilation and a total dominance of the Farsi language in all walks of life. UNPO believes that the ethnic minorities of Iran should have the right to education in their mother tongue as a basic human right, as well as access to media and litterature in their mother tongue.