Execution of Iranian Kurdish Activist Suspended But Niece Commits Suicide
Young Woman Takes Her Own Life After Campaign of Intimidation by Security Forces
Kurdish prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi was not executed in Iran on May 2, 2018, as planned, but his niece, Nishtiman Hossein Panahi, committed suicide after an intense campaign of fear and intimidation launched against his family by Iranian security forces.
The death row prisoner’s brother, Amjad Hossein Panahi, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that Ramin Hossein Panahi was moved out of solitary confinement in the Central Prison in Sanandaj, the capital city of Iran’s Kurdistan Province, following international outcry by the UN and human rights groups over his scheduled execution.
“On Wednesday, [May 2] Ramin was returned to the public ward and on Thursday they allowed a family member to visit him in the presence of an agent,” Amjad Hossein Panahi said.
“His case received a lot of media attention,” he added. “There were campaigns inside Iran, in Kurdistan, and in Europe against the execution order, which were the possible reasons why it was stopped.”
“We don’t know the exact reason but as long the death sentence stands, we will still have nightmares and can’t stay silent,” he said.
It’s unclear what will happen to Ramin Hossein Panahi now but his execution has not been halted. UN human rights experts have urged the Iranian authorities to annul the death sentence, citing concerns about allegations that he had not received a fair trial and had been tortured in detention.
Amjad Hossein Panahi, who describes himself as a political and human rights activist based in Europe, told CHRI that his family gave Ramin Hossein Panahi the tragic news about his niece while visiting him on May 3.
“Nishtiman was our sister’s 25-year-old daughter, whose husband Ahmad Aminpanah is currently in jail in Sanandaj,” he said.
“She had been summoned to the offices of the Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards in Sanandaj numerous times,” he said. “They tried to come between her and her husband by saying his family are anti-revolutionaries and she should not have married him.”
“They said she should get a divorce and free herself because her husband was going to be in prison for a long time,” added Amjad Hossein Panahi. “Their interference in her private life, and Ramin’s scheduled execution, was too much for her to handle and unfortunately, she committed suicide.”
In November 2017, Ahmad Aminpanah was sentenced to five years in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” after inquiring about his relatives—including Ramin Hossein Panahi—who were attacked in an ambush by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in June 2017.
“It’s not just Nishtiman,” Amjad Hossein Panahi told CHRI. “Our whole family is on the verge of suicide.”
“We don’t dare leave our mother alone. One of our sisters is always with her to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself,” he added. “Right now, my brother Ramin is in prison on death row, my other brother Afshin has been sentenced to eight years in prison and is sitting in jail and our son-in-law Ahmad Aminpanah is in prison serving a five-year term.”
“On top of these terrible circumstances, the security agencies are continuing to harass us and making things worse,” he said.