On Wednesday, the Kurdistan Press Agency reports that Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Khoy has sentenced five Iranian Kurds to 46 years in jail for their alleged ties to Kurdish opposition groups. The names of the five individuals, all residents of Maku city in West Azerbaijan, are: Mostafa Armin, Mousa Hatefi, Saeed Derayat, Ali Marhamati and Vali Balkhanloo.
The five men were arrested a year ago. According to local reports, Vali Balkhanloo was tortured to death just days after his arrest. The news of his death has not yet been made public.
Vali Balkhanloo and Mostafa Armin have been sentenced to 15 ½ years in prison in addition to exile after being found guilty of Moharebeh (enmity against God). Saeed Derayat and Ali Marhamati were sentenced to four years in jail, while Mousa Hatefi received a seven-year prison term.
Iran’s ethnic minority communities, including Arabs, Azerbaijanis, Baluch, Kurds and Turkmen, suffer “ongoing systematic discrimination in law and practice” according to Amnesty International. “Those who campaigned for greater political participation or recognition of minorities’ economic, social and cultural rights faced systematic threats, arrest and imprisonment,” Amnesty's 2011 report added.
Sunni Kurds face additional discrimination for they are both a linguistic and a religious minority.
Authorities continue to prohibit the use of minority languages in schools and government offices, despite the fact that the constitution permits the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as in schools.