In brief

Kurdish language teacher sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran

Human rights groups claim sentence is exclusively based on her cultural activities

Zahra Mohammadi.
Zahra Mohammadi. Author: Iran Human Rights (IHR)
Kurdish language teacher Zahra Mohammadi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on charges of having “formed a group against national security.” Several human rights groups and Kurdish organisations claim the sentence is exclusively linked to her activity in promoting Kurdish.

Mohammadi, 28, is the director of the Nojin Cultural Association, which focuses on various social, civic and cultural activities in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj, Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw reports.

The teacher was arrested on 23 May 2019 and held in prison until 2 December, when she was released pending sentence. Mohammadi can appeal the verdict.

According to Amnesty International, the teacher is a prisoner of conscience who has been prosecuted over “for her peaceful activities empowering members of Iran’s marginalized Kurdish community, including through teaching the Kurdish language.”

According to Hengaw, “there are no other organizations or groups” besides Nojin “that can be associated with Zara Mohammadi.” Thus it is clear, according to the Kurdish group, that the sentence only concerns the teacher’s cultural activities.

Initially Mohammadi was also accused of having links with two armed groups, but the charges were dropped, Rudaw explains, because they had no basis.

The Kurdish language in Iran can only be taught outside the official education system, which uses Persian. Kurdish and other minority language activists are often harassed and arrested by Iranian authorities.