Farzad Kamangar is a 33-year-old Iranian Kurdish teacher and social worker from the city of Kamyaran, Iran. Farzad was arrested in July 2006. Since then, he has been held in various detention centres around the country.
For several months he was kept in solitary confinement and was not allowed any contact with his family or lawyer. The police also arrested Farzad’s girlfriend, as well as members of his family.
Prison authorities on different occasions during his detention have used torture to force him to confess to the charges against him. Farzad has denied the charges against him. For this denial, Kamangar was repeatedly tortured. Amnesty International reports that ‘Mr. Kamangar was repeatedly beaten, flogged, and electrocuted, and that he now suffers from spasms in his arms and legs as a result of the torture.’
On 25 February 2008, Branch 30 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death on charges of ‘endangering national security’ and the crime of ‘enmity against God’ or moharebeh. Prosecutors charged that he was a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but provided no evidence to support the allegation. In July of that same year, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.
On Monday, 11 January 2010 at 10am local time, Farzad Kamangar was able to contact his family, albeit briefly. This is the conversation they had:
Farzad: Hi mom, I hope you are well.
Farzad’s Mother: Yes dear, I am very well and I am proud of you. Believe me I am doing well, as always.
Farzad: Mom, how are the kids (Farzad’s students) doing? What do they say? What are they up to? What is the media saying?
His mother’s response to these questions is brief and the phone is then suddenly disconnected.
Farzad’s mother wishes to deliver the following message:
Please send my best wishes to Mina Ahadi and tell her that she should send a message to all mothers who have lost loved ones and those whose loved ones are imprisoned like mine that we should do something for them ourselves.
All the youngsters who have been executed, are being executed, and those in detention, are all my brothers and sisters, just as my Farzad is a son to countless others. I have said this many times: He belongs to all people. Human beings are not different from each other, be they Persian, Kurd, Arab or Turk. We are all human beings and we want freedom and dignity. But who do we talk to? Where? How?
My message to mothers in the same situation is this: my dear sisters and my dear daughters, wherever we are, whatever our ideas and opinions, we need to join hands, stay in touch and protest in a unified manner. We need to rise together. What are they going to do to us? Execute us? Let us be executed so that we may never see the deaths of our children. Dear mothers, please let us join hands to free our young people. I know that these gentlemen (regime officials) are listening to these words. Let them hear me. Let them execute me. I will sooner set myself on fire than silence myself. Have they not seen what happened to the Shah? Have they not seen what happened to Saddam? They should not continue on this path or they will meet the same fate.
What do the youth want besides freedom? What crime has Farzad committed except seeking freedom? He has spent 4 years in prison. Lately his lawyer wanted to review his file and they have told him that the file is lost! His lawyer has suffered a stroke because of the stress caused by Farzad’s case and the tens of other similar cases, and is now hospitalized.
I am pleading with the Human Rights Commission, all political parties and organizations that are for humanity and all people who fight for human dignity. The situation is very dangerous. They are executing youngsters everyday.
If anyone can do anything, please do. Do not let them execute youngsters en masse. You and all the world shall be my defense. Please let the world hear my message.
Farzad worked for 12 years as a teacher in the rural areas of Kamyaran, in the Kordestan Province of Iran. He was also member of the Kurdish branch of the teacher union and was in charge of its public relations until it was outlawed. Farzad was also active in defending Kurdish minority rights, human rights and women’s rights.
Recently Kamangar participated in the hunger strike to protest the execution of Ehsan Fatahian.
Conversation With Mother of Kurdish Activist on Death Row. Persian2English, 12 January 2010.
Farzad Kamangar sentenced to death after five-minute trial. Education International, 19 August 2008.