Zeinab Jalalian

Rights group calls on UN experts to intervene on behalf of a Kurdish women’s rights activists on the seventh anniversary of her arrest on Women’s Day

In a petition filed on 5 March 2015, REDRESS and Justice for Iran have urged the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to intervene on behalf of a female Kurdish activist who is currently serving a life sentence in Iran; after she was arrested on the International Women’s Day seven years ago.

In their petition, the organisations urge the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to call on the Iranian Government to grant Zeinab Jalalian a re-trial that complies with international standards for fair trial, including disregarding any evidence obtained under torture or other ill treatment.

They also request that she is protected from further torture and ill treatment and given access to all the necessary medical treatment, including urgent care for a degenerative eye condition that is causing her to lose her sight.

In 2008, Jalalian was sentenced to death for “enmity against God” (moharebeh) by Kermanshah Revolutionary Court for her alleged membership in the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), an armed Kurdish opposition group. She was not granted access to a lawyer during her summary trial, and was sentenced to death despite the lack of evidence about her participation in the armed activities of the PJAK. Her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2011.

The organisations state that Jalalian was targeted for her social activism and promoting women’s rights in the Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan, where she had been assisting women by providing them education and social services since 2000 until her arrest. One of her last activities took place in an early visit to the Iranian Kurdistan prior to her arrest in March 2008, when she visited a girls’ high school in Kamiaran to talk about the importance of International Women’s Day and distributed flowers to the students.

Jalalian is currently service a life sentence in Khoy Prison, western Iran Prison, western Iran. Prior to being transferred to Khoy Prison in early 2015, Jalalian was held in Dizel Abad Prison, near Kermanshah, where she received inadequate treatment for a series of ailments that her family believe result from the beatings she has endured.

Before her trial, Jalalian spent eight months in pre-trial detention in a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre, where she says she was subjected to severe torture and ill-treatment to force her to confess to false charges. This included long interrogations while being blindfolded, beatings, flogging under her feet, threat of rape and solitary confinement. She also says she was tortured during a period of detention in Evin Prison in 2010.

Jalalian suffers from intestinal infections and internal bleeding. She also suffers from intestinal infections and internal bleeding. She also from conjunctiva, but prison authorities have repeatedly refused to allow her access to an eye specialist outside of the prison to get the required surgical treatment.

Her health has deteriorated to a point that she currently needs assistance to perform daily tasks. Her eye condition is reported to be rapidly deteriorating. On 16 June 2014, Amnesty International issued an urgent action calling on the Iranian authorities to give Jalalian the medical treatment she required.

Since Jalalian has been jailed, her family has only been able to visit her a few times and has only been allowed to have two minute telephone conversations with her once a week.

A copy of the Petition has also been submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel Inhumane Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

For further information please contact Shadi Sadr Justice for Iran Executive Director at shadi.sadr[at]justiceforiran.org; +44 (0) 2034411499 (office) and +44 07707049084 (mobile) and/or Eva Sanchis, REDRESS Communications Officer at eva@redress.org; +44 (0) 2077931777 (office) and +44 07857110076 (mobile).

About the co-authors of the petition: 

REDRESS is an international human rights organisation which seeks justice and reparation for survivors of torture and related international crimes.

Justice for Iran is a non-governmental not for profit human rights organisation established in July 2010. It aims to give voice to the voiceless in Iran.

About the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: WGAD is a UN body of independent human rights experts that investigates cases of arbitrary arrest and detention that may be in violation of international human rights law and is currently under the purview of the UN Human Rights Council.