July 27, 2020
Shahnaz Sadeghifar, a Kurdish citizen from Urmia, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Second Branch of Urmia Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Sheikhlou.
The sentence was handed down against Sadeghifar despite the fact that she had returned to Iran after splitting from Kurdish group, and, in keeping with Iranian law, she had received an “immunity letter” from the IRGC’s Intelligence Organizations stating that, as a self-surrendered ex-member, she should not face criminal charges.
A source close to Sadeghifar told IranWire: “Shahnaz was tried on July 21, on charges of membership of the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK). The sentence was issued two days later.”
According to the same person, Sadeghifar was deprived of her right to a chosen lawyer during the proceedings. Instead she was represented by a substitute lawyer, selected by the court. In the days since the verdict, a Kurdish lawyer has announced his readiness to write a protest bill for this imprisoned citizen.
Shahnaz Sadeghifar had left the country about three years ago with her 17-year-old daughter, Ainaz Zare, to join the PAK. The pair returned to Iran late last summer after receiving written confirmation from the Guards that it was safe to do so. On entering Iran from the Siranband border crossing in Baneh, they were detained by border guards but were released after it was established that they held an immunity letter.
Later on that same day, after arriving in Urmia, Sadeghifar and her daughter were contacted by the IRGC Intelligence Organization. Officials told them to spend the night at her father’s house and attend their offices the next day to clarify a few matters. “They told me not to worry,” she told people close to her. “They said you will both be back tomorrow. You will be our guest for a while and then you will be released.”
But instead, the next day, Sadeghifar and her daughter were arrested. Instead of being released a few days later as expected, they were held in detention for two months and then immediately transferred to the women’s ward of Urmia Central Prison.
According to the laws of the Islamic Republic, members of Kurdish opposition parties, if they return to Iran on their own and carry a letter of immunity, are subject to the original amnesty laws laid down by Ayatollah Khomeini. They will be deprived of certain civil rights, but are exempt from criminal proceedings.
Fears for Sadeghifar and her daughter’s welfare and mental health are mounting. Judiciary and security officials have reportedly told Sadeghifar that her daughter, Ainaz, has been acquitted in court and will be released from prison in the coming days. It is not clear why Ainaz was arrested in the first place, let alone why she had been held along with her mother for so long. Sadeghifar has two other daughters, aged 11 and 13, who live with their grandparents.