Kurdish Language Teacher Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison by Iranian Court

Soma PourMohammadi, a Kurdish language teacher in Iran, sentenced to 11 years in prison for promoting Kurdish education, highlighting the suppression of minority rights in the country.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Kurdish Language Teacher Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison by Iranian Court

Kurdish Language Teacher Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison by Iranian Court

Soma PourMohammadi, a 35-year-old Kurdish language teacher and member of the socio-cultural organization Nojîn in Sanandaj, Iran, has been sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison and exile to Kermanshah by the Sanandaj Revolutionary Court. PourMohammadi was charged with 'forming groups against national security' and received a 10-year sentence, in addition to a 1-year suspended sentence from the Sanandaj Criminal Court for 'endangering national security'.

PourMohammadi was initially arrested on January 18, 2022, while on her way to the Sanandaj court to inquire about the case of her husband, Edris Manbari, who had previously been arbitrarily detained. She was released on bail of one billion Tomans after 27 days in detention. Her trial took place on April 17, 2024, with the verdict announced three days later.

As an advocate for teaching the Kurdish language in Eastern Kurdistan (Iranian Kurdistan), PourMohammadi has been actively involved with the Nojîn Social and Cultural Association. The organization offers lessons in Kurdish literature and language, and promotes civil society and educational initiatives, especially in remote regions without schools. However, this commitment is seen as a threat by the Iranian regime, which has systematically discriminated against Kurds for decades.

Why this matters: The case of Soma PourMohammadi highlights the ongoing suppression of minority rights and cultural expression in Iran. The harsh sentencing of a language teacher for promoting education in her native tongue emphasizes the difficulties faced by ethnic minorities in asserting their cultural identity within the country's political landscape.

Other members of the Nojîn Association have also faced similar charges and lengthy prison sentences. Zara Mohammadi, the co-founder of the organization, was arrested in 2019 for 'establishing a committee and group that is against the stability and security of the system' and sentenced to 5 years in prison in February 2021. Mohammadi began serving her sentence in January 2022 but was released in February 2023 for unknown reasons. Two other members, Saywan Ibrahimi and Idrees Mimbari, have been sentenced to 12 and 10 years in prison, respectively.

The Iranian Constitution permits education in native languages for all ethnic groups, but various organizations claim the government has failed to uphold this provision and has hindered its implementation. The sentences handed down to PourMohammadi and her colleagues were justified by the judiciary as necessary to prevent the endangerment of the state, with their attendance at the funeral of Jina Mahsa Amini, whose death sparked the 'Jin Jiyan Azadî' (Woman, Life, Freedom) revolt, also cited as a factor.

Key Takeaways

  • Soma PourMohammadi, a Kurdish teacher, sentenced to 11 years in prison in Iran.
  • Charged with 'forming groups against national security' and 'endangering national security'.
  • Advocates for teaching Kurdish language, seen as a threat by Iranian regime.
  • Other Nojîn Association members also face similar charges and lengthy sentences.
  • Iranian Constitution permits education in native languages, but government hinders implementation.