Political Prisoners Pen Condolences in Wake of Deadly Forest Fire

Posted on: August 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Four political prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison (a.k.a Gohardasht), Karaj, have written an open letter to express compassion over the deaths of four environmental activists who lost their battle with the forest fires of Marivan, located in Kurdistan in western Iran.

The deceased activists — Sharif Bajour and Omid Kohnepoushi, both members of Chya Green Society, and Mohammad Pazhouhi and Rahmat Hakiminia, members of Marivan Environmental Office — were fighting wildfires near the Iraqi border in Salasi and Pileh. Marivan’s county governor revealed their cause of death to be asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation.

Two other activists, Mokhtar Aminejad and Mohammad Moradveisi, were injured in the same fire.

Below is the full text of their letter, translated into English by HRANA:

It is not my lot to die a natural death;

Better for the holy grail than in blissful sleep,

And on truth’s command, I welcome that death

which releases freedom from chains of darkness

It was with great shock and sorrow that we heard the news that Sharif Bajour and the others had perished; grief engulfed us like flames. We struggle to reconcile with the sad reality that the chestnut oaks of Zagros Mountain (1) have lost a dear friend.

Sharif Bajour, so appropriately named (2), leaves the Zagros bereft. He was a true friend to the mountains, plains, and forests of Kurdistan. Had he lived anywhere else on earth [but here], his death would have roused the lament of a nation. If the state-run media shrouds his death in silence, he remains an eternal hero in the hearts of the people. His loss leaves a void in the heart of his nation, who has seldom known so noble and gentle a soul as his. His new and creative path of resistance is his legacy.

Bajour’s resistance involved guarding the chestnut oaks of Zagros with his body and soul, biking for the cause of peace on earth, and staging a hunger strike outside the media spotlight.

As political prisoners of Gohardasht prison, we express our condolences to the families of this respectable man, as well as to the families of the other Zagros fire victims, whose names we regrettably do not know. We extend our deep sympathy to his friends and comrades from the Chya Green Association, to all those who care about the environment, and to the people of Kurdistan. They have lost some of the most honorable men of their time. Much like the fire that took their lives, the loss of these beloved souls has burned our spirit.

Arash Sadeghi,
Loghman Moradi,
Zanyar Moradi,
Saeed Shirzad

—-

(1) Mountain range in western Iran and scene of the fatal forest fire
(2) Sharif means “honorable” in Arabic

Four Environmental Activists Die Fighting Marivan Forest Fire

Posted on: August 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A forest fire claimed the lives of four environmental activists who were working to contain the flames searing through Marivan (western Iran) on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

Sharif Bajour and Omid Kohnepoushi, members of the Chya Green Association, and Mohammad Pazhouhi and Rahmat Hakiminia, members of the Marivan Department of Environment, died from smoke inhalation and severe burns.

Two others — Mokhtar Aminejad, 33, and Mohammad Moradveisi, 57 — were injured in the flames. Moradveisi was transferred to the city of Sanandaj by helicopter due to the severity of his burns.

Marivan County Governor Mohammad Sharifi said that the fire broke out near the villages of Selsi and Pileh in Marivan County due to the scorching temperatures the region had been experiencing the day before. Of those who were present when the flames swelled out of control, i.e. civilians, environmental activists, and forces from the Department of Environment, Mohammad Sharifi said: “Unfortunately on Saturday morning at 9, when gusts of wind exacerbated the blaze, four were engulfed and died, and two more were injured.”

Bajour was a member of the Board of Directors of the Chya Green Association and a well-known environmental activist who had reportedly been arrested and interrogated several times by security apparatuses in regards to his environmental activities.

Chya Green Association was among the most active NGOs orchestrating efforts to contain the fire. Within hours of the activists’ deaths, Marivan citizens took to the streets in front of Bou-Ali hospital where the bodies of the dead are being held.