Iran: Kurdish environmental activist sentenced to prison

The Kurdish environmental activist Erfan Rashidi has been sentenced to prison in Iran for "propaganda against the state." The activist is blamed for his role in combating state-run forest fires.

An Iranian Revolutionary Court in Paveh in the eastern Kurdistan region of Kermanshah has sentenced environmental activist Erfan Rashidi to a one-year prison term for "propaganda against the state." The court also imposed a two-year ban on Rashidi's activities, according to the Kurdish Human Rights Network (KHRN), based in France.

Activist Erfan Rashidi has long been targeted by the regime authorities for his role in combating state-run forest fires in Kurdish areas. In July 2018, after a raid on his home in Hewraman, he was arrested in the Iraqi-Iranian border area and interrogated for one week in Kermanshah at an Iranian Intelligence detention center. At that time, the authorities accused him of propaganda against the state as well as "collaboration with Kurdish organizations". Only after payment of bail, the activist was released again.

Rashidi is a well-known member of the East Kurdistan environmental organization Jiwa, which is based in Paveh. In addition, he has been involved in recent years, especially for the victims of the earthquake in Kermanshah, who have to live in tents or on the street. On 12 November 2017, at least 630 people were killed and 8,500 others injured in a devastating quake in the eastern Kurdistan province. It was the largest earthquake in Iran in the last ten years. At least 70,000 people had to leave their homes. Some of them lost their lives the following winter in makeshift tents where they were inadequately protected against the cold. So far, only a fraction of earthquake victims has received aid from the budget provided by the regime.