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Iran: UN rights experts condemn secret execution of Kurdish political prisoner

GENEVA (03 July 2020) – UN human rights experts today expressed outrage at reports of Iran's secret execution of Hedayat Abdollahpour, a member of the Kurdish minority in the country.

The execution reportedly took place on 11 May in a military base in Oshnavieh, West Azerbaijan Province.

"We condemn the execution of Hedayat Abdollahpour in the strongest terms," the independent experts said. "Any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a State's obligations under international law is tantamount to arbitrary execution and hence unlawful. The fact that the execution took place in secret after an enforced disappearance is an additional aggravating factor."

Abdollahpour was sentenced to death in 2017 for allegedly "taking up arms against the state" during an armed clash between the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (DPIK) in 2016. Abdollahpour was convicted despite claims that his confession was extracted through torture and his denial of being a DPIK member.

The Supreme Court ordered a retrial due to lack of evidence, on the basis that Abdollahpour was not in possession of weapons nor in the area at the time of the clash, but he was sentenced to death again on 18 January 2018.

On 9 May 2020, Abdollahpour was reportedly transferred from his prison cell to an undisclosed location. On 10 June, despite assurances by other authorities that he was still alive, the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences orally informed individuals associated with Abdollahpour that he had been executed. The death certificate, made available on 24 June, stated the cause of death as "collisions with hard or sharp objects".

The experts said that the concerns they raised with Iranian authorities on 15 May and 17 June about Abdollahpour's alleged enforced disappearance and secret execution remained unanswered. The authorities have provided no official information about the execution and the location of Abdollahpour's body remains undisclosed.

"We regret to note yet again that not even the requirements of domestic law have been followed, and we highlight the extreme pain and anguish that not knowing the fate of their relative inflicts upon the family," the experts said. "We call on the authorities to return the body to the family and to provide official information about the execution."

The experts expressed serious concern over allegations that the execution took place following pressure from the IRGC and that prosecution authorities and a representative from the IRGC's intelligence unit were present at the execution.

"Mr. Abdollahpour's execution unfortunately forms part a broader pattern of arrest, enforced disappearances and secret execution of political prisoners, in particular members of ethnic minority groups. We call on Iranian authorities to end the cycle of responding to dissent with violence," the experts said.

ENDS

The experts: Mr. Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Luciano Hazan (Chair-Rapporteur), Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Mr. Bernard Duhaime, Ms. Houria Es-Slami, and Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius (Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances); Mr. Fernand de Varennes RP, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur),  Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Mr. Seong-Phil Hong,  Mr. Sètondji Adjovi (Working Group on Arbitrary Detention)

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Iran

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Ciaron Murnane (cmurnane@ohchr.org)

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