Zahra Mohammadi, a Kurdish teacher with a master’s degree in geopolitics, has been sentenced to five years in prison for her political activism and for teaching Kurdish to children.
29-year-old Zahra Mohammadi received an official message in Sine, the capital of the Kurdistan province, on 28 December, informing her that her five-year sentence had been confirmed by the Supreme Court. She was also informed that she had ten days to turn herself in.
Zahra is the director and a founding member of the Nûjîn Socio-Cultural Association, which was established in 2011 and certified by the Iranian Ministry of Interior in 2013.
Although in theory the teaching and the studying of minority languages is permitted in Iran’s constitution, in practice this is not so. This was the reason why Zahra and her friends had founded Nûjîn association to teach Kurdish, and it was essentially this that led to her being criminalised and charged.
The members of the Nûjîn association aim to raise awareness of the legal and cultural rights of different ethnic groups in Iran, including the Kurds. They have been active in promoting cultural education and organising Kurdish language classes in various cities in the region.
Zahra was interrogated by the Intelligence Organisation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and was subjected to harsh treatment and torture.
She was ordered to surrender to the security authorities within ten days to be taken into custody. She has voluntarily complied with this and said her goodbyes to her loved ones beforehand.
The following is Zahra Mohammadi’s last message before she was taken to prison:
“Dear comrades, in my last words to you, as my feelings overwhelm me right now, I would first like to tell you all of my heartfelt gratitude for all of you.
I did not actually imagine that I would come forward with these strong emotions today. It is a very inspirational moment for me to be here with you. And not only for me, but for all those who have been struggling for the freedom of our community.
Dear friends, I assure you that every minute and every moment when I was imprisoned before, I thought of the words of our famous poets. I was released from prison a year and a half ago. I always say that whoever spends time in prison displays stronger dedication to the struggle and action for freedom. Thank you so much to you all. Thank you so much for coming here for my farewell.
I hope we will be able to go forward all together. When we talk to people of other countries on this issue, they wonder if we’re joking.
They never believe what we are actually exposed to; specifically our imprisonment for teaching our mother language.
Other countries, other people, other nations have struggled for their different rights. But we are still fighting for our fundamental right of education in the mother tongue. As a pioneer activist for the right of education in the mother tongue, I am hopeful that some day we will able to exercise our right to education in our mother language.
Once more I really appreciate that you prepared this farewell gathering here for me. And I would like to quote the following line as a motto of my struggle: ‘May mud fall on the head of the tyrant who imprisons his people.'”