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27 November 2020

«Monthly Report of Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran»

2010 May 12

The systematic violation of Azerbaijani human rights in Iran continued thorough April. Azerbaijani activists were summoned to the security and judiciary agencies or were detained arbitrarily. The political prisoners were deprived of their fundamental rights as prisoners and were subjected to different psychological and physical pressures. Security forces still put pressure on Azerbaijani student organization.

Azerbaijani activists detained

On April 2, 2010 scores of Azerbaijanis gathered at Lake Urmia to protest the drying of the lake. The protest, however, was sharply ended by security forces, who viciously attacked and arrested more than one hundred Azerbaijani protesters. Hossein Nasiri, one of the detained protestors, is still held by security forces.

Azerbaijanis gathered around Lake Urmia to demonstrate what they call it Iranian authorities’ neglect of environmental disasters. People demonstrated by symbolically pouring bottles of water to the lake. When security forces arrived, they reportedly attacked demonstrators and fired tear gas and threw stones to disperse the crowds.

The protests took place in a few different cities around Lake Urmia. Scores of people were arrested, most of them released on bail after a few days of detention. The detainees were interrogated. Reportedly, they were insulted and beaten by security forces during the interrogations. The following is the a list of detainees which were made aware to ADAPP: Yavar Jamali, Mortaza Avazpur, Mansur Seyfi, Arsalan Zarei, Hamid Valayi, Ahmad Valayi, Hossein Nasiri, Asgar Sadughi, Mohammad Tabrizi, Ali Baghbani, Yaghub Ramezani, Yaghub Javani, Rahbar Esmaili, Rashid Bazbaz, Javid Nazmi, Ahmad Gholipur, Ehsan Ramezani, Asghar Fruteni, Hadi Khodabande, Jalil Budaghi, Mohammad Mohammadlu, Azizkhan Sadeghzade, Hosseinali Mohammadi, Ahmed Alizade, Yasin Farid Medanlar, Amir Zarei, Ali Pakbaz, Ali Mehdi Zade, Belal Hatemi, Naser Bakhtiyari, Taeb Lotfi, Yashar Kazemzade, Habib Mehri, Rasul Razavi, Yaghub Karimi, Sadighi, Said and Saber Jahani, and  Nader, Ghader, and Taher Mahmudi.

The lake has lost more than 6 meters of its depth after last years’ droughts and constructed dams on rivers feeding the lake. The second largest salt water lake on earth is going to be a vast valley of salt, which is threatening not only the life of people and other living beings around the lake, but also the life in other neighboring countries. Another problem is the leaking of industrial wastes including Arsenic and Ammoniac into the lake which has increased the risks of cancer and gangrene among people living in cities near by the lake.

Experts believe that small investments by the government can solve the problem and prevent the lake from drying. However, according to political analysts, neglecting the drying of Lake Urmia is a result of the security approach toward ethnic regions by the government.

Lake Urmia is a considered to be one of the largest natural habitats of artemia, which serves as a food source for migratory birds, such as flamingos. Most of the area is considered a national park and is taken under protection as a “biosphere region” by UNESCO.

Davud Khodakarami, an Azerbaijani journalist and human rights activist was arrested on April 19 by security forces in Zanjan and released after two days of detention. Reportedly, security forces searched his home after detaining him and took his books, CDs, computer, and a poster of Said Matinpur, a prominent Azerbaijani political prisoner. The authorities have forced him to admit that he was preparing and distributing articles about the Mother Tongue Day celebrations in Zanjan. However, he has denied the claims against him.

Khodakarami is currently working for Bayram, a Turkish-Persian monthly journal, and was the former director of Islamic Association of Students in Zanjan University. The university authorities closed down the association they put on a Mother Tongue Day ceremony in 2006. Khodakarami was dismissed from the university following these actions.

Tofigh Mortazapur, a teacher and a member of Tabriz Teachers’ Trade Union Center, was arrested just days before Teachers’ Day in Iran, following the increased pressure on activist teachers. Security forces took his computer and some other personal properties of Mortazapur from his house when arresting him.

Female football fans arrested

Security forces arrested 25 Tractor FC fans on April 16, 2010 and released them after some hours of interrogation. Throughout Tractor FC soccer game in Tabriz, Iran’s police attacked the families of fans who were there to watch the match, not inside the stadium, but on the hills around the Tabriz Sehend stadium. Police arrested 25 fans, some of which were female. Fateme Hossein Nejat (f), Elmira Nazari (f), Arsalan Nazari (m), Babek Khodayi and his wife Yalda, Ali Babayi and his wife were some of the detained fans during the game.

They were reportedly interrogated in police custody for some hours then released on bail. They were once again summoned to answer some questions on April 17, 2010. Before the match, Azerbaijani cultural rights activists called on Tractor FC fans to protest the restrictions on women at soccer games inside the stadium.

Women in Iran are faced with vast discriminatory policies. Womens’ rights activists courageously protest against the discrimination of women in public, which is enshrined in law.

Ahl-i Haq prisoners of conscience sentenced to longer jail terms

Sahandali Mohammadi, Bakhsali Mohammadi, and Abdollah Ghasemzade, who are Iranian Azerbaijani citizens and members of the Ahl-i Haq religious minority, were sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment. The prisoners of conscience are serving their jail term in Yazd Prison.

According to the verdict issued by Yazd court, they are charged with publishing incorrect articles about their own situation in Urmia Prison in order to sway public opinion and insult the supreme leader. Their families say that the extension of their jail sentences followed the report of the prison authorities indicating the above crimes. The prison sentences now come to a total of 15 years and six months for each.

According to families of the prisoners of conscience, they started a hunger strike in objection to insults and ill-treatment by prison guards, and ended the hunger strike after the guards apologized. The families also say that the prisoners are held in a crowed cell with addicted prisoners in unhealthy conditions.

Sahandali Mohammadi, Bakhsali Mohammadi, Ebadollah Ghasemzade along with Yunes Aghayan and Mehdi Ghasemzade are Iranian Azerbaijanis citizens and members of Ahl-i haq sect. They were arrested following a conflict between security forces and villagers in Uctepe, a village near to Miyandob (Qosacay). They were sentenced to the death penalty, but the sentences of Sahandali Mohammadi, Bakhsali Mohammadi, Ebadollah Ghasemzade were reduced to 13 years of imprisonment with exile by an appeals court. They served five years in Urmia Prison and then were transferred to Yazd Prison, a city which is thousands of kilometers from their home town on November 13, 2008. The death penalty of Yunes Aghayan, and Mehdi Ghasemzade were confirmed in appeals court. Ghasemzade was executed on February 28, 2009 in Urmia Prison.

Although Iran’s Constitution mentions the rights of religious minorities in two distinct articles, some minorities such as Ahl-i haq and Bahais are not indicated.  Iran’s government prevents them from partaking in religious ceremonies. They are arrested, ill-treated and are deprived of their fundamental rights.

Azerbaijani activists tried

Samad Mollagholi, a cultural rights activist, was tried on April 17, 2010, in Tabriz. He is charged with illegally exiting Iran to Turkey and then returning to Iran. The next stages of the trial will take place at a later date.

Mollagholi was detained for 15 days in 2008 for participating in protests against the offensive cartoon published in state-run Iran newspaper. He was sentenced to 91 days of imprisonment, which was then revoked after a hearing in the appeals court.

Said Chalabiyani, Reza Gordani, Bahram Bohaymi, and Jamal Tasujiyan, Azerbaijani cultural activists and directors of Varliq Children Cultural Group were tried on April 20, 2010. The trial was not public and they were acquitted. They were charged with violating the national security and membership in illegal groups. Previously the reason for the trial was officially described as establishing Varliq group and participating in a ceremony celebrating the anniversary of the 1945 Azerbaijani autonomous movement on December 10, 2009.

During the ceremony, security forces attacked participants and fired tear gas into the crowds. A number of people were detained who were released on bail to be tried later after one day of detention.

December 12 is the anniversary of the autonomous movement of Azerbaijani in 1945 whereby Azerbaijani Turkish became the official language in Iranian Azerbaijan for one year. Every year, people celebrate the day by giving Turkish books as gifts and distributing articles demanding ethnic rights. Every year security forces attack the ceremonies and detain the participants.

Hunger strike of prisoners objecting prisons bad condition

Azerbaijani activists Behruz Alizade, Vadud Saadeti, and Rahim Gholami started a hunger strike on April 1, 2010 demonstrating the oppressions implied by Ardebil Prison authorities and violations of their rights as prisoners. They ended the hunger strike following the authorities’ promises of removing pressures and limitations.

Alirzade, Saadeti, and Gholami were arrested on April 10, 2008 by Ardebil security forces and were detained for 20 days. They were released on bail to be tried later. The court sentenced them to five years imprisonment in February 2008. They appeal court reduced the sentence to one year. They have been serving their jail term since October 28, 2009.

Said Matinpur, a prominent Azerbaijani activist, human rights defender and journalist is in prison and in terrible health. The repeated requests of Matinpur’s lawyer and family from judiciary authorities of his transfer to a hospital outside of the prison have not been granted. Judiciary authorities issued permission for prisoners to enjoy the Norouz holidays but the requests of political prisoners to use their lawful rights were denied by prison authorities once more.

Azerbaijani army officer and activist discharged

Firuz Yusefi, an Iranian Army Infantry officer and cultural rights activist was discharged on March 3, 2010. The authorities described the reasons for his removal as collaboration with separatist individuals and groups and movement against national security.

Yusefi was detained in 2008 for participating in Sattar Khan Remembrance Day and distributing Happy New Year cards which were in Azerbaijani Turkish. He was released on bail to be tried later.

The pressures on Azerbaijani officers who demand Azerbaijanis ethnic rights have increased in recent years. Some officers were sent to exile or discharged though past years.

Azerbaijani student organization closed down

The Arman Student Organization, which was the only active Azerbaijani student organization in all of Iran’s universities, was closed down last month and its members were called to court and were interrogated.

According to members of the central council of the organization in Tabriz Azad University, the warrant was issued on April 26, 2010. The security employees of the university confiscated the organization’s properties and closed down the office following the issued warrant. The reason for the action is not been released yet, but reportedly it was closed due to the work of the members in demanding Azerbaijanis ethnic rights.

Ghader Noruzi, the director of the organization, was called to Tabriz Court and was released after three days of detention and interrogation on bail of 100 milion Rials ($10,000). He will be tried later and will be charged with propaganda against regime and approaching the Azerbaijan Democrat Party. The claims are based on a journal published by organization about the role of women in Azerbaijanis social movements on May 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Fateme Nasirpur and Ghader Noruzi were interrogated in police office just after the journal was published.

Prior, Tabriz Azad University authorities dismissed four members of the organization who were studying for their M.S. degrees. The authorities also have inferred the central council poll, refusing the qualification of some candidates.

A large number of student organizations and journals have been closed down through the past years, in Iran’s universities. Azerbaijani student activist are detained, sentenced to long term imprisonments or dismissed from the universities.

April 2010

«نوشته فوق می تواند نظر نویسنده باشد و الزامن نظر رادیو کوچه نیست»

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۱ Comment

  1. 1

    Great, thanks for sharing this article.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.