At dawn on Sunday, December 19, authorities in Iran hanged Kurdish political prisoner Heydar Ghorbani, 48, at the Central Prison of Sanandaj in the western province of Kurdistan. The death penalty was implemented despite international defiance and calls by human rights groups and activists for sparing Mr. Ghorbani’s life.

“Iranian Kurdish prisoner Heidar Ghorbani is at imminent risk of execution for ‘armed rebellion against the state’ (Baghi), despite serious fair trial violations and the trial court confirming that he was never armed,” stated Amnesty International on September 10. “In August 2021, the Supreme Court rejected his second request for judicial review. His conviction is based on torture tainted “confessions” obtained while he was forcibly disappeared.”

Also, in September, UN human rights experts called on the Iranian government to halt the imminent execution of Ghorbani and repeal his death sentence, stressing that he did not receive a fair trial and was tortured during pre-trial detention.

Previously, on August 8, 2020, the Iranian Resistance called on the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner on human rights, the UN Human Rights Council, and other human rights organizations and bodies to take urgent action to prevent the execution of Ghorbani and save his life.

Back in 2016, Mr. Ghorbani was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in his hometown Kamyaran city. Intelligence agents immediately transferred him to Sanandaj Central Prison, where he was finally executed.

Interrogators applied various physical and psychological torture on Mr. Ghorbani, forcing him to make confessions about murdering several members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its paramilitary force of Basij. Authorities later broadcasted torture-tainted confessions in a so-called documentary of “the driver of death.”

Mr. Ghorbani later rejected confessions and said his remarks were extracted under torture. “According to his family, Heydar Ghorbani was forced to confess under duress and psychological torture. His forced confessions were later broadcasted on the English channel of the Iranian state-run television, Press TV in 2017,” wrote Iran Human Rights Monitoring on August 9, 2020.

Iran’s regime executes Kurdish political prisoner Heidar Ghorbani

In truth, Mr. Ghorbani is another victim of the Iranian government’s gross and systematic human rights violations. According to international law experts, in this case, many foundational guarantees of fair trial and due process enshrined in international human rights law appear to have been violated.

Furthermore, allegations of torture and confessions extracted under duress are extremely concerning, as is the fact that these allegations did not lead to any investigation and appear not to have been considered by the Court during his trial.

“Ghorbani is the latest victim of the Iranian regime’s long list of crimes against the Kurdish people,” wrote the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“A martyr never dies,” chanted hundreds of people who had gathered in the cemetery of Kamyaran today in the memory of Heydar Ghorbani. Meanwhile, authorities had detained Hassan, the brother of the late Heydar Ghorbani, fearing public backlash to this criminal execution, according to the Iran News Wire center.