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Guilt by Association: Relatives of Armed Kurdish Group Member Shot by IRGC Arrested

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CHRI - "We don't know if he's dead or still alive."

Four relatives of a member of a Kurdish militant organization who was recently shot in a clash with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that killed his colleagues in northwestern Iran have been arrested, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.


Sabah Hossein Panahi, Hamed Seif Panahi and Behzad Nouri, members of the banned Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an armed separatist group, were killed by agents of the IRGC's Hamzeh Headquarters on June 24, 2017 in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran's Kurdistan Province.

A fourth Komala member who was there at the time, Ramin Hossein Panahi, was shot and wounded, but his status remains unknown.

"We only heard that Ramin was hit with three bullets and the Revolutionary Guard took him to a hospital in Sanandaj, but shortly after they transferred him to an unknown location," Ramin's brother, Amjad Hossein-Panahi, told CHRI on June 27. "We don't know if he's dead or still alive."

"None of the authorities are answering our questions about Ramin and have been very rude and disrespectful toward us," he added in a call with CHRI from his home in Germany. "They even arrested four of my relatives who had nothing to do with Komala."

The bodies of the killed Komala fighters had still not been delivered to their families three days after the clash, and the families have been warned not to hold memorial services.

Komala is a militant communist organization engaged in armed struggle against Iran in Kurdish populated regions of the country near the border with Iraq and Turkey.

"IRGC agents went to the homes of the killed (Komala members) and warned them of the consequences if they did not remain silent," said Hossein-Panahi.

He continued: "They went to my father's home in the village of Ghourchai and treated him with disrespect. They beat up my sister and arrested my younger brother, Afshin, who was not a Komala member. We don't know where he is or what he has been charged with."

"Two days later, they raided my father's home again and arrested our son-in-law Ahmad Hossein Panahi, my cousin Anvar Panahi, and another relative, Zobeir," he added. "We don't know where they are being held. But the important thing is that none of them are Komala members."

"We are familiar with these tactics," Hossein-Panahi told CHRI. "During the 37 years since the [1979] revolution, every time people got arrested, their family members were also rounded up to intimidate them."

Hossein-Panahi is demanding that the authorities provide information about his brother and his family members.

"First of all," he said, "we want to know whether Ramin is alive or dead. If he's alive, we want to see him or talk to him on the phone."

"Secondly, we demand that all four detainees, who have no political affiliations, be freed unconditionally," he added.

"Thirdly, the security forces around our house should leave the area and allow people to go about their daily lives," he said. "Fourthly, the families have the right to have the bodies of their children and bury them."