Kurdish political prisoner takes own life due to torture in Orumiyeh

50-year-old Kurdish political prisoner Shahin Gallehdar, who was serving a two-year sentence in Orumiyeh, has ended his life by hanging himself in prison.

Kurdish political prisoner Shahin Gallehdar took his own life today due to the pressure and torture by the Ministry of Intelligence, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has reported.

Gallehdar, 50, from the village of Haki in Orumiyeh, West Azerbaijan Province, was serving a two-year sentence in Orumiyeh Central Prison.

According to KHRN, the prisoner hanged himself in the political and religious prisoners’ ward today after being transferred several times in recent weeks to the Ministry of Intelligence’s office in the prison and to the Ministry’s detention centre in the city, where he was subjected to pressure and torture by security interrogators to cooperate with the intelligence service.

“Security interrogators had also shaved off his moustache to humiliate him. At the same time, the security services have summoned and threatened several members of his family in recent months,” the report said.

During the transfer of Gallehdar’s body to the prison infirmary, two officials in charge of the section, Yahya Soltani and Hamid Ali Hekmati, confronted political prisoners and threatened them with death.

Gallehdar’s family and relatives gathered in front of Orumiyeh Central Prison after learning of his death. Although his body has been transferred to the Forensic Medicine Department in the city, it has not yet been released to his grieving family, according to KHRN.

Gallehdar was arrested on 28 February 2019 and subsequently released on bail after five days of interrogation.

He was later sentenced to five years in prison by Branch Three of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Orumiyeh on charges of “acting against national security” by allegedly collaborating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Appeals Court of West Azerbaijan Province reduced the sentence to two years, resulting in Gallehdar’s re-imprisonment to serve his sentence in March 2023.

This tragic incident adds to the growing concerns of prisoners in Orumiyeh Central Prison. In a recent letter, over 800 inmates, including political prisoners, raised the alarm about the increasing number of suicides in the prison due to the increasing pressure from the authorities. The prisoners demanded the removal of Peyman Khanzadeh, the head of Orumiyeh Central Prison, citing harsh conditions and an atmosphere of intimidation.

In their letter, the prisoners said: “In recent months, several prisoners have committed suicide due to the pressure and harsh conditions in different sections of this prison, and every few months a family receives the body of a prisoner in tears. Every time, due to the pressure, there is no news of these suicides outside the prison. Currently, more than ten prisoners who have attempted suicide in Orumiyeh Central Prison are being treated in external medical centres”.