On May 13th around 30 members of Hands Off the People of Iran along, Iranian students and exiles demonstrated in support of the general strike in Iranian Kurdistan and protest the executions of five political prisoners on May 9th in Evin prison. Those executed were school teacher and trade unionist Farzad Kamangar, Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Houli and Mehdi Eslamian. We rallied outside the University of Manchester Students’ Union and the BBC building spreading leaflets and literature on the situation. There were speeches by Iranian refugees who explained the situation in Iran the recent repressive measures in both English and Farsi.
Chris Strafford from HOPI’s national steering committee condemned the executions and the ongoing torture and incarceration of political prisoners within Iran, he also spoke about the negative impact of sanctions and that the key task for socialists in the UK is to oppose sanctions and military threats whilst building solidarity with the truly democratic movements. Afterwards he read out a letter by Farzad Kamangar sent to other prisoners titled ‘Be Strong Comrades’ you can see the videos here and here.
Hands Off the People of Iran demands:
* The immediate end to executions in Iran
* The unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners
* An end to the sanctions regime and imperialist threats
Five political prisoners were executed on May 9 2010 in Evin prison in Tehran. Farzad Kamangar, Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam- Houli and Mehdi Eslamian were members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) . They were charged with membership of a Kurdish “anti-revolutionary” and “moharebe” or waging war against God. Vicky Thompson, Welfare Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union posted this on her blog:
“Is it possible to carry the heavy burden of being a teacher and be responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge and still be silent? Is it possible to see the lumps in the throats of the students and witness their thin and malnourished faces and keep quiet?
Is it possible to be in the year of no justice and fairness and fail to teach the H for Hope and E for Equality, even if such teachings land you in Evin prison or result in your death?”
– Farzad Kamangar, executed 09/05/10, aged just 32.
Kamangar, a Kurdish teacher activist, was executed today alongside four other political prisoners. Kamangar was arrested in 2006 and sentenced to death by hanging in February 2008 after a trial lasting 5 minutes. He had been tortured and had attempted suicide while in prison. When his family last visited him, he was unable even to walk. Kamangar was sentenced to death for the alleged “crimes” of endangering national security and enmity against god. Once again, this brings shame on those on the left who are – or have been – apologists for the Iranian state and its barbaric catalogue of human rights abuses.
Kamangar was executed alongside Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Houli and Mehdi Eslamian. They were all members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), described by the Islamic Republic of Iran as “counter-revolutionary”. It appears that the executions are intended to quell support for anti-regime protests in Iran. Nonetheless, the families and supporters of those killed will be protesting outside Tehran University tomorrow.
“Mr Judge and Interrogator: when you were interrogating me, I couldn’t speak your language and couldn’t understand you. I learned Farsi in the past two years in the women’s section of the prison from my friends. But you interrogated me, tried me and sentenced me in your own language even though I couldn’t understand it and couldn’t defend myself. The torture that you subjected me to has become my nightmare.”
– Shirin Alam-Houli, executed 09/05/10, aged just 28