AI calls to revoke the death sentence issued against political prisoner

Ramin Hossein Panahi

Amnesty International issued an urgent action statement, calling on Iran to revoke the death sentence issued against political prisoner, Ramin Hossein Panahi.

“Iranian Kurdish prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi has been on hunger strike since 27 January in protest of being sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial that followed four months of enforced disappearance. He has been transferred to solitary confinement in reprisal. His conviction and sentence violate international law and must be quashed,” the statement reads in part.

On Ramin Hossein Panahi’s background Amnesty International wrote:

Ramin Hossein Panahi, a 22-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority, started a hunger strike on 27 January after he learned that he had been sentenced to death in connection with his membership of the armed Kurdish opposition group Komala. On 31 January, a Ministry of Intelligence official visited him in prison and said that his death sentence would be commuted to imprisonment if he agreed to make televised “confessions” denouncing Kurdish opposition groups as “terrorists”. When he refused, the intelligence official apparently became enraged and said that he would pay with his life for his “stubbornness”. Ramin Hossein Panahi was then transferred to solitary confinement where he now remains. There are fears about his health as he suffers from persistent headaches and a kidney infection, possibly resulting from torture. Following his arrest on 23 June 2017, he was forcibly disappeared for four months. According to him, during this period and a further two months of solitary confinement, Ministry of Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards officials repeatedly tortured him including through beating him with cables, kicking and punching him in the stomach and hitting his head against the wall. They also deliberately denied him adequate medical care for the injuries he sustained from being shot at the time of his arrest.

Ramin Hossein Panahi’s trial, which took place on 16 January, was grossly unfair and lasted less than an hour. His family told Amnesty International that he appeared before the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj with obvious torture marks on his body but the court failed to order an investigation. According to his lawyer, the court convicted him and sentenced him to death for “taking up arms against the state” (baqi) based on his membership of Komala, but without providing any specific evidence linking him to acts involving intentional killing, which is the required threshold under international law for imposing the death penalty. Between his arrest and trial, he was only allowed one brief meeting with his lawyer, which took place in the presence of intelligence officials. This violates the right to consult with one’s lawyer in confidence. The judicial authorities also refused to disclose to either him or his lawyer the details of the evidence brought against him before the hearing. His lawyer is planning to appeal his sentence.