The deaths of Kurdistan’s environmental activists are suspicious, we ask for an independent investigation committee to look into the recent incident


Three environmental activists Mukhtar Khandan, Bilal Amini and Yassin Karimi were killed on June 28 2020 in a fire in the Bozin and Marahkheil protected area in Bayangan, Paveh district.

KMMK has suspicions about the actual cause of the death of the environmental activists in eastern Kurdistan and believes that the Islamic Republic of Iran and its affiliated military force the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC forces, have deliberately initiated the fire and are ultimately responsible for the deaths of these three environmental activists.

According to the residents of Paveh and Marivan, IRGC deliberately set fire on several occasions in the region and intentionally aimed to destroy these protected forests which are also sources of income for locals.

Many areas in eastern Kurdistan and especially the areas on border lines of Iran and Iraq have been mined. These landmines are planted by IRGC and with fires they explode and escalate the situation and also kill people.

Residents of the area and the friends of the three dead environmental activists told KMMK that Mukhtar, Bilal and Yassin were well acquainted with the area, especially with the forested areas, and had repeatedly controlled forest fires.

Locals believe and insist that it would have been very unlikely for Mukhtar, Bilal and Yassin to be surrounded by fire and catch fire and lose their lives in this way.

KMMK after several interviews with Marivan civil and environmental activists came to the same conclusions and believes that more investigation on the actual cause of the deaths of Mukhtar, Bilal and Yassin should be carried out.

In the interviews it was mentioned that Sharif Bajur and Omid Hosseinzadeh, who lost their lives in 1997 during a firefight in the forests of Marivan, were also well acquainted with the area and the forests of Marivan, and that their deaths could not be the result of fire or being caught in the fire.

In 1997, when the two Marivan environmental activists lost their lives, locals reported they were killed with the explosion of a landmine planted by IRGC.

In the case of Mukhtar, Bilal and Yassin the same issue was raised and reported immediately by civil  activists and residents of Paveh.

Another factor that increases the possibility of the intentional deaths of these environmental activists in eastern Kurdistan is the pressure from the security forces and IRGC on the families of the victims to bury the victims quickly and without the regular autopsy procedure in these cases.

This is similar to the case in Marivan, in 1997, where the families of the victims were not allowed to hold regular funerals, and security agencies forced the families of the victims to bury quickly the bodies of Sharif Bajur and Omid Hosseinzadeh.

It should be noted that in none of the cases an autopsy was granted in order to determine the actual cause of the deaths of these civil activists. Questionably the Iranian government and its related agencies reported very quickly that the cause of the deaths were due to the effects of heat and the smoke inhalation.

KMMK believes that the deaths of these environmental activists are not accidental and IRGC is ultimately responsible in this case. KMMK holds the IRGC and Iranian government accountable for setting fires in the region intentionally that cause catastrophic destruction of forests in the region and deaths of activists and civil residents.
Based on these grounds KMMK urges the people of eastern Kurdistan, the families of the victims, political and civil organizations and institutions to call for the formation of independent committees to investigate and identify the main cause of the deaths of these loved ones.

Kurdistan human rights Association