URGENT ACTION: Azerbaijanis arrested in lake protests

April 4th, 2011

Around 70 Iranian Azerbaijanis were reportedly arrested on 2 April during peaceful demonstrations in Tabriz, and about 20 others in Oromieh, north-western Iran.

The protesters were calling for Lake Oromieh to be saved, as it is at risk of drying out due to dam building. Most have been released but the whereabouts of at least five protesters remain unknown.

The demonstrations took place in Tabriz, Oromieh and reportedly other cities where Iranian Azerbaijanis live, calling on the Iranian authorities to remove dams on rivers feeding Lake Oromieh (also spelt Urmia, Urumieh, Oroumiye) which is at risk of drying. Similar to protests in previous years, the protesters brought glasses of water and poured them into the rivers feeding the lake or the lake itself. They also carried banners with slogans such as “Break down dams and let water flow into the Lake Urmia”, “Lake Urmia has no water in it and [if] Azerbaijan does not wake up now, it will be too late” and “Long live Azerbaijan”.

The demonstration in Tabriz took place by the Talkheh River (also called Aji Chai) where plain-clothed police and armed forces arrested up to 70 people and injured many. Those still in detention in Tabriz are said to include Habib Pourvali, Jalil Alamdar Milani, Ali Salimi and Sa’id Siyami. In Oromieh, the protest took place in a park in the city where up to 20 people were reportedly arrested including Sa’id Khizirlou. Most of those arrested are believed to have been released within 24 to 48 hours. The whereabouts of those still detained are unknown.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, English or your own language:

* Calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Habib Pourvali, Jalil Alamdar Milani, Ali Salimi, Sa’id Siyami and Sa’id Khizirlou and any other detained protesters, if they were arrested in connection with the peaceful expression of their views or participation in a peaceful gathering, as they would be prisoners of conscience;
* Urging the authorities to immediately disclose their whereabouts and to ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and have access to a lawyer, their families and any medical treatment they might require;
* Urging the authorities to remove unlawful restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly in Iran.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 16 MAY 2011 TO:

Head of East Azerbaijan Province Judiciary
Hojjatoleslam Sharifi,
Judiciary of East Azerbaijan,
Central Complex,
Beginning of Vali-Asr Hill,
Tabriz, East Azerbaijan 5157733135,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: 009841133201109
Salutation: Dear Sir

Head of West Azerbaijan Province Judiciary
Hojjatoleslam Sayed Mohammad Ali Mousavi
Judiciary of West Azerbaijan
Enghelab Square,
Oromieh, West Azerbaijan Province,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@dadgostary-ag.ir
Salutation: Dear Sir

Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
High Council for Human Rights
[Care of] Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737,Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@humanrights-iran.ir (subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
Salutation: Dear Sir

And copies to:
Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
High Council for Human Rights
[Care of] Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737,Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@humanrights-iran.ir (subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
Salutation: Dear Sir

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Lake Oromieh is a salt lake in north-western Iran. The lake is situated between the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan. It is the largest lake in the Middle East and the third largest salt water lake on earth. More than 40 dams have been built over 13 rivers that feed the lake and the recent draught, which started in 1999, has significantly decreased the annual amount of water the lake receives. This in turn has increased the salinity of its water which may lead to an ecological disaster in the region.

Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. As the largest minority in Iran, they make up 25-30 per cent of the population; they live mainly in the north and north-west of the country and in Tehran. Although generally well integrated into Iranian society, in recent years they have increasingly called for greater cultural and linguistic rights, including the implementation of their constitutional right to education in Azerbaijani Turkic. Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution states that Persian is the official language of Iran and that “official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as textbooks, must be in this language and script.” It adds that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”

A small minority want Iranian Azerbaijani provinces to break away from Iran and join with the Republic of Azerbaijan. In recent years the authorities have grown increasingly suspicious of Iran’s minorities, many of which are situated in border areas, and have accused foreign powers such as the USA and the UK of stirring unrest among them. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani cultural identity and linguistic rights are often charged with vaguely worded offences such as “acting against state security by promoting pan-Turkism”.

Both before, and particularly since, the disputed presidential election in June 2009, the Iranian authorities have severely restricted freedom of expression in Iran, arresting journalists (of whom scores are believed to remain in detention), imposing restrictions on the use of the internet, including social networking sites, and shutting down newspapers. Demands by ethnic minority rights activists for greater rights have, for many years, been suppressed. This pattern continues in the context of a wide and generalized suppression of most forms of dissent over government policy.

In February 2010, Iran accepted several recommendations to guarantee freedom of expression and press activities made by other states as part of a review of its human rights record before the UN Human Rights Council in the framework of the Universal periodic review (see paragraph 90, recommendations 52-58 at [3] www.upr-info.o…) but rejected other recommendations calling for an end to measures such as harassment and arbitrary arrest of writers, journalists and bloggers. It appears that, despite such public commitments, in practice, the Iranian authorities are continuing to disregard their human rights obligations relating to freedom of expression. Iran also rejected recommendations to take all appropriate measures to end all forms of discrimination and harassment against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic and other minorities (see paragraph 92).
At the beginning of March 2010, a wave of arrests of human rights defenders took place. Students, journalists and political activists have also continued to be targeted since the start of the year, and arrests have expanded to include lawyers, clerics, members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minorities such as the Baha’is, Kurds and Azerbaijanis, and those with family links to members of banned groups.

UA: 102/11 Index: MDE 13/038/2011 Issue Date: 04 April 2011

Risk of Imminent Execution, Ahle-Haq prisoners

April 28th, 2009

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/038/2009
27 April 2009
UA 113/09
Risk of Imminent Execution

IRAN Yunes Aghayan, (m)

Yunes Aghayan, a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority and an Ahl-e Haq follower, is at imminent risk of execution after being convicted of “enmity against God”. He is held in Oromieh Prison in West Azerbaijan Province, in north-west Iran. Another man, Mehdi Qasemzadeh, was executed after being convicted in the same case around 28 February 2009, giving rise to fears that Yunes Aghayan could be executed at any time.

Yunes Aghayan was arrested around November 2004, following at least two clashes in September 2004 between members of a group of Ahl-e Haq members and police. The group had refused to take down religious slogans at the entrance to their cattle farm in Uch Tepe, West Azerbaijan Province. During the clashes, five Ahl-e Haq members and at least three members of the security forces were killed.

Yunes Aghayan and four others were tried before Branch 2 of the Mahabad Revolutionary Court. In January 2005, Yunes Aghayan and Mehdi Qasemzadeh were sentenced to death for “enmity against God”, usually applied to those who take up arms against the state. Their sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2005 and Mehdi Qasemzadeh was executed around 28 February 2009. Three others – Sehend Ali Mohammadi, Bakhshali Mohammadi, and Ebadollah Qasemzadeh – were also sentenced to death, but their death sentences were overturned by the Supreme Court in September 2007. They are serving 13-year prison sentences in internal exile in Yazd Province, central Iran.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Ahl-e Haq are members of a religion founded in the 14th century, who live mainly in Iraq and western Iran. Most members are Kurdish, with smaller numbers from other ethnic minorities including Azerbaijanis.

The Iranian constitution guarantees equality to minorities in Iran, who are believed to number about half of the population of about 70 millions of inhabitants. Article 3(14) provides for equality of all before the law. Furthermore, Article 18 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party, states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

Under Article 13 of Iran’s Constitution, three religious minorities – Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians – are entitled to practise their faith. However, adherents of unrecognized religions, such as Baha’is, the Ahl-e Haq, and Mandaeans (Sabeans), or those who convert from Islam to another religion, are not permitted the freedom to practise their beliefs and are particularly at risk of discrimination or other violations of their internationally recognized human rights.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:

– urging the authorities to commute Yunes Aghayan’s death sentence;
– stating that Amnesty International recognizes the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but opposes the death penalty as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment;
– reminding the authorities that as a state party to the ICCPR, Iran has undertaken to uphold freedom of religion, including the right to manifest one’s religion in public.

APPEALS TO:
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
c/o Director, Judiciary Public Relations and Information Office
Ardeshir Sadiq
Judiciary Public Relations and Information Office
No. 57, Pasteur St., corner of Khosh Zaban Avenue
Tehran, Iran
Email: info@dadiran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
http://www.leader.ir/langs/fa/index.php?p=letter (Persian)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
Email: via website: http://www.president.ir/email/
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Javad Larijani)
Salutation: Dear Mr Larijani

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 8 June.

Further Information on Abbas Lisani

November 13th, 2008

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/167/2008

13 November 2008

Further Information on UA 74/08 (MDE 13/050/2008, 17 March 2008) Prisoner of conscience/ Torture

IRAN Abbas Lisani (or Leysani) (m), activist

Prisoner of conscience, Abbas Lisani, was released from Yazd Prison in central Iran, on 29 October 2008 after serving two consecutive sentences totalling 30 months’ imprisonment.

A prominent activist for the rights of the Iranian Azerbaijani minority, Abbas Lisani was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment and 50 lashes after he was convicted of taking part in a May 2006 demonstration by Iranian Azerbaijanis in his home town of Ardabil. The demonstration was staged to protest against a cartoon published in an Iranian newspaper which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. His sentence was confirmed on appeal in October 2006. The flogging sentence has not been yet carried out.

Abbas Lisani’s second prison sentence of one year was passed in August 2006 and confirmed later on appeal, in connection with his participation in a peaceful cultural gathering at Babek Castle in 2003. In April 2008 he also received a fine of 50,000 Toman (about US $50,125) by a court in Tabriz, north-western Iran, on charges of “disturbing public order” during another gathering in Tabriz in June 2005.

During his detention Abbas Lisani went on several hunger strikes including in protest against his transfer to Yazd Prison and his harsh treatment there. He was then deprived of temporary prison leave as permitted in Iranian law.

On 7 October 2008, Abbas Lisani was taken to the offices of the Intelligence Services in Yazd where he was subjected to 10 hours’ interrogation during which he was questioned about his plans after his release. The interrogation took place in presence of members of the Security force from his north western hometown, Ardebil. A few days prior to his release, the General Prosecutor and the Intelligence Services of Ardebil threatened Abbas Lisani’s family that he would be arrested again should he take part in any event or movement in an Azerbaijani city.

No further action is required from the UA network. Many thanks to all those who sent appeals.

Further Information on Fear of torture and other ill treatment/Incommunicado detention of Azerbainanis

October 23rd, 2008

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/158/2008
23 October 2008

Further Information on 269/08 (MDE 13/141/2008, 22 September 2008) Fear of torture and other ill treatment/Incommunicado detention

IRAN:
Alireza (Elirza) Serrafi (m), civil engineer, journalist and cultural activist
Akbar (Ekber) Azad (m), writer
Hassan (Hesen) Rashidi (m), engineer, writer and lecturer
Sa’id (Seid) Mohammadi (Mehemmedi) Mughanli (m), poet and journalist
Hassan (Hesen) Rahimi (Rehimi) Bayat (m), civil engineer, human rights activist
Hossein Haydari (Huseyn Heyderi) (m), student
Abbas Na’imi (Neimi) (m), cultural activist
Mehdi Na’imi (Neimi) (m), poet and university lecturer
Sayyad Mohammadian (Seyyad Mehemmedian) (m), activist

Five of the nine Iranian Azerbaijani activists named above have been conditionally released in October. All nine were charged with “acting against national security” and had been held in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence, since their arrest on 10 September 2008. The four remain in solitary confinement and were allowed to meet with family members on 13 October for the first time but have had no access to lawyers.

Akbar Azad, Hossein Haydari, Abbas Na’imi, and Sayyad Mohammadian were released on 8 October, and Hassan Rahimi Bayat was released on 16 October. The five were released on the condition that they each post bail of 500 million rials (approximately US$51,000) and present a personal bail guarantor. The personal guarantor will have to provide several months of pay stub, and will be held responsible if the activists do not show up when they are summoned by the authorities, or if they flee the country. The activists have been told by the judge who set the bail that if they do not pay the required sum then they will be returned to prison. Akbar Azad was summoned to Judge Metine Rasekh’s court room on 15 October and was told to find the 500 million rials bail. The released activists so far have not found a guarantor and have not been able to raise 500 million rials for the bail.

Akbar Azad stated that during his entire time in detention he was only allowed outside for about 30-40 minutes each day in his last 2 days of detention. During his time in detention he was unable to gain access to medical treatment for stomach problems although he was allowed to see a nurse once after fainting from severe pain from stomach pain. Akbar Azad was interrogated for long periods that sometimes lasted overnight. The interrogators threatened his and his family’s life and since being released he has also received telephone calls in which further threats were uttered.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized to be the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 percent of the total population of Iran. They are located mainly in the north and north-west of Iran. Although generally well-integrated into society, in recent years, they have increasingly called for greater cultural and linguistic rights, such as the right to education through the medium of the Azerbaijani Turkic language and to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history at cultural events.

Iranian Azerbaijani activists have previously called for a boycott of the first day of the school year and for demonstrations to be held calling for Iranian Azerbaijani children to be allowed the opportunity to be educated in their own language (see AI Public Statement at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/108/2006/en/dom-MDE131082006en.html
The current academic year in Iran started on 1 Mehr (23 September) and the arrest of the activists appears to be an attempt by the authorities to pre-empt protests and boycotts. Amnesty International believes they may be prisoners of conscience, held solely for the peaceful expression of their right to freedom of expression and association.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, French, English or your own language:
– urging the authorities to ensure that the remaining four Azerbaijani rights activists Alireza Serrafi, Hassan Rashidi, Sa’id Mohammadi Mughanli, and Mehdi Na’imi are not facing torture or other ill treatment;
– urging the authorities to allow them immediate and regular access to their family and a lawyer of their choice, and to any medical treatment they may require;
– calling on the authorities to release the remaining four activists detained since 10 September unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial;
– noting that if they are held solely on account of their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, then they are prisoners of conscience, and should be released immediately and unconditionally.

APPEALS TO:
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Information
Second Negarestan Street
Pasdaran Avenue
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: iranprobe@iranprobe.com
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: int_aff@judiciary.ir (In the subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 04 December 2008.

Nine Azerbaijani activists have been held incommunicado

September 23rd, 2008

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/141/2008

22 September 2008

UA 269/08 Fear of Torture and other ill treatment/Incommunicado detention

IRAN Alireza (Elirza) Serrafi (m) , aged 53, civil engineer, journalist and cultural activist
Akbar (Ekber) Azad (m), writer
Hassan (Hesen) Rashidi (m), engineer, writer and lecturer
Sa’id (Seid) Mohammadi (Mehemmedi) Mughanli (m), poet and journalist
Hassan (Hesen) Rahimi (Rehimi) Bayat (m), civil engineer, human rights activist
Hossein Haydari (alias Huseyn Heyderi) (m), student
Abbas Na’imi (Neimi) (m), cultural activist

Mehdi Na’imi (Neimi) (m), poet and university lecturer

Sayyad Mohammadian (alias (Seyyad Mehemmedian) (m), activist

The nine Azerbaijani activists named above have been held incommunicado since their arrest on 10 September. They are being held in solitary confinement in the Ministry of Intelligence-run Section 209 of Evin prison in Tehran, and are at risk of torture and other ill treatment. It is believed that authorities may have arrested these activists to pre-empt any protests or planned boycotts of schools on 1 Mehr (23 September). Amnesty International believes they may be prisoners of conscience, held solely for the peaceful expression of their right to freedom of expression and association.

In the late afternoon of 10 September, plain clothed officers, believed to be Ministry of Intelligence officials, arrested at least 18 Iranian Azerbaijanis who were gathering to break the Ramadan fast. The gathering was held in the house of Sayyad Mohammadian, an Azerbaijani activist, who is one of those detained. No warrant was produced at the time of arrests. Those detained are prominent activists in the Iranian Azerbaijani community. They included writers, journalists and human rights defenders.

Among the 18 arrested were women and children, who were later released. The women and men who were released were freed on bail after being interrogated. They included Ruqeyye Elizade Lisani, the wife of prisoner of conscience Abbas Lisani (see UA 163/06, MDE 13/063/2006, 08 June 2006, and follow-ups). The couple’s three children were also held briefly.

The families of the nine who are still being held have been unable to obtain any information about the charges brought against them. On 15 September, a Tehran court official told Vejihe Fukur Serrafi, the wife of one of the detainees, Alireza Serrafi, that the nine individuals were held in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin Prison and that their interrogation would take some weeks.

Vejihe Fukur Serrafi later appeared on the Persian-language Radio Farda, which broadcasts from outside Iran, and spoke about the arrests. On 18 September, the authorities forcibly entered her home, searched it and confiscated personal property, including laptops, handwritten notes belonging to Alireza Sarrafi, all the books in the house that were in the Azerbaijani Turkish language, CDs, and all family personal identification documents, including passports. The officers produced a handwritten note stating “for confrontation with pan-Turkist and pro-identity individuals permission has been granted to make forced entries, arrest and eliminate physical obstacles” but it is not clear to Amnesty International whether this constitutes a warrant.

In previous years, Iranian Azerbaijani activists had called for a boycott of the first day of the school year, and for demonstrations to be held calling for Iranian Azerbaijani children to be allowed the opportunity to be educated in their own language (see AI Public Statement at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/108/2006/en/dom-MDE131082006en.html ).This year the start of the new academic year in Iran falls on 1 Mehr (23 September), and it appears that the current arrests are part of the authorities’ efforts to pre-empt protests or boycotts.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized to be the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 percent of the total population. They are located mainly in the north and north-west of Iran. Although generally well-integrated into society, in recent years, they have increasingly called for greater cultural and linguistic rights, such as the right to education through the medium of the Azerbaijani Turkic language, which they believe is provided for under the Constitution, and to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history at cultural events.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, French, or your own language:
– urging the authorities to ensure that Azerbaijani rights activists Alireza Serrafi, Akbar Azad, Hassan Rashidi, Sa’id Mohammadi Mughanli, Hassan Rahimi Bayat, Hossein Haydari, Abbas Na’imi, Mehdi Na’imi,and Sayyad Mohammadian are not facing torture or ill treatment;

– urging the authorities to allow the nine individuals immediate and regular access to their family and a lawyer of their choice, and to any medical treatment they may require;

– calling on the authorities to release all those detained on 10 September unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial;

– noting that if they are held solely on account of their expression of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, then they are prisoners of conscience, and should be released immediately and unconditionally.

APPEALS TO:

Minister of Intelligence

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie

Ministry of Information

Second Negarestan Street

Pasdaran Avenue

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: iranprobe@iranprobe.com

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary

Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran

His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)

Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)

Email: int_aff@judiciary.ir (In the subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 3 November 2008.

Azerbaijani rights activist Reza Daghestani was released on 19 March, on a bail of around 40,000 US dollars

March 27th, 2008

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/060/2008
26 March 2008

Further Information on UA 58/08 (MDE 13/040/2008, 6 March 2008) Fear of Torture

IRAN, Reza Daghestani (m), aged 27, Azerbaijani rights activist, student, journalist

Azerbaijani rights activist Reza Daghestani was released on 19 March, on a bail of around 40,000 US dollars.

He had been arrested on 21 February 2008 at his family home in the city of Oroumiye. His home was searched and his computer, CDs, papers and books were confiscated, along with printouts of his newsletters.

Reza Daghestani is the editor of a student newsletter, Chamlibel, published in both Azerbaijani Turkic and Persian and he has written for several other publications. His other activities have included starting a series of Azerbaijani Turkic classes in the town of Naghadeh and establishing groups to organize peaceful demonstrations in the province of West Azerbaijan in connection with International Mother Tongue Day, 21 February.

He was a member of the committee of a campaign group called Urmu Azerbaijan Sesi, which actively supported several would-be candidates from Oroumiye who all were disqualified from standing for the Majles (parliament) elections which were held on 14 March. Urmu Azerbaijan Sesi issued a public statement objecting to the “unfair and undemocratic disqualification of its candidates”. Amnesty International believes his arrest was connected to some or all of these peaceful activities on behalf of Iranian Azerbaijanis.

No further action is required. Many thanks to all those who sent appeals.

IRAN, Abbas Lisani (or Leysani) (m), activist for Iranian Azerbaijani rights

March 19th, 2008

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/050/2008
17 March 2008
UA 74/08
Prisoner of conscience/Torture

IRAN, Abbas Lisani (or Leysani) (m), activist for Iranian Azerbaijani rights

Prisoner of conscience Abbas Lisani was moved to a new prison on 6 March so that his flogging sentence can be carried out. He is now in imminent danger of being flogged, which is cruel and inhuman treatment amounting to torture; Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which expressly prohibits torture.

He is serving a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment and 50 lashes, confirmed on appeal in October 2006 ,after he was convicted of taking part in a May 2006 demonstration by Iranian Azerbaijanis in his home town of Ardabil against a cartoon published in an Iranian newspaper which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. He had been held in Ahar Prison, 112km from Ardabil. He has now been moved to Yazd Central Prison, 2,000km away. The guards at Ahar Prison had refused to carry out the flogging sentence. Ahar is in West Azerbaijan Province, where Abbas Lisani is very popular; in Yazd there are few Iranian Azerbaijanis and he is not known locally, making it easier to have the flogging sentence carried out. He is also serving another prison sentence of one year passed in August 2006 and confirmed later on appeal, in connection with his participation in a peaceful cultural gathering at Babek Castle in 2003.

He has begun a hunger strike in protest at his removal to Yazd, which he believes is intended not only to facilitate his flogging, but to prevent him from regular contact with his family, a right accorded to prisoners under international human rights standards. In a phone call from prison on 14 February 2008 he said that he was being tortured, at which point the phone was cut off.

Abbas Lisani is the subject of UA163/06 (MDE 13/063/2006, 8 June 2006) and follow-ups.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. The largest minority in Iran, they live mainly in the north and north-west of the country, and in the capital, Tehran. Many Iranian Azerbaijanis demand greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education in Azerbaijani Turkic. Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution states that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”

A small minority want Iranian Azerbaijani provinces to break away from Iran and join with the Republic of Azerbaijan. In recent years the authorities have grown increasingly suspicious of Iran’s minority communities, many of which are situated in border areas, and have accused foreign powers such as the US and UK of stirring unrest among them. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani cultural identity and linguistic rights are often charged with vaguely worded offences such as “acting against state security by promoting pan-Turkism”.

International human rights standards, such as the ICCPR and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provide for humane treatment of those in detention including access to the outside world, family and friends.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Persian, Arabic, French or your own language:

– expressing concern that Abbas Lisani has been moved to a prison in Yazd so that a sentence of flogging can be carried out and to inhibit contact with his family;

– expressing concern at reports that he is being tortured in Yazd Central Prison;

– pointing out that Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which expressly prohibits punishments such as flogging, which amount to torture, and urging the authorities to commute that part of his sentence immediately;

– calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression .

APPEALS TO:

Head of the Judiciary

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary

Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Governor of Yazd
Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh
Bureau of the Governor (Howzeh Istandar)
Governorate (Istandar)
Yazd
Iran
Email: ravabet@ostan-yz.ir

COPIES TO:

President

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

via website: www.president.ir/email

Salutation: Your Excellency

Speaker of Parliament

His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel

Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami

Imam Khomeini Avenue,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: + 98 21 6 646 1746

Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir (Ask for your message to be copied to the Article 90 Commission)

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 28 April 2008

IRAN, Jelil Ghanilou (m) – Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic right activist

March 10th, 2008

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/045/2008
10 March 2008

Further Information on UA 61/07 (MDE 13/027/2007, 09 March 2007) and follow-up (MDE 13/067/2007, 7 June 2007and MDE 13/035/2008, 7 February 2008) – Prisoners of conscience/Torture

IRAN, Jelil Ghanilou (m) – Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic right activist

Jelil Ghanilou, an Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic right activist, was released on 27 February and is now at home with his family in the city of Zanjan in western Iran. Bail amounting to around US$86,000 was paid for his release.

Jelil Ghanilou was arrested in Zanjan in February 2007 in connection with his participation in an event marking International Mother Language Day. He was released around 10 days later but on 28 May 2007 he was rearrested following demonstrations marking the anniversary of the publication in May 2007 of a cartoon seen by many Iranian Azerbaijani activists as offensive. Between June 2007 and his release he was repeatedly moved between Evin Prison in Tehran and a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Zanjan. Reports suggest that he faced continuous interrogation and ill treatment throughout the latter part of 2007 and into 2008. He was held in the Ministry of Intelligence-run Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison from 4 December 2007 until his release.

Jelil Ghanilou was permitted one family visit in September 2007, prior to which he had reportedly been deprived of sleep for long periods and had faced periods of 24-hour interrogations. Officials had threatened members of his family. He is reported to have required medical treatment several times. His family had irregular telephone contact with him in the latter part of 2007. If Jelil Ghanilou spoke Azerbaijani Turkic during their conversations, the line was sometimes cut, while conversations in Persian were allowed to continue. Guards watched over him during his telephone conversations.

On 3 February 2008, flanked by guards, he is reported to have said in a telephone conversation that he had been held in solitary confinement for six months and that he continued to face torture. Jelil Ghanilou allegedly added that he was no longer afraid to say over the telephone that the psychological pressures of uncertainty, misleading information; of repeated interrogations and threats from the authorities were wearing him down.

No further action is required. Many thanks to all those who sent appeals.

IRAN, Reza Daghestani (m), aged 27, Azerbaijani rights activist, student, journalist

March 6th, 2008

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/040/2008
6 March 2008

UA 58/08
Fear of Torture

IRAN, Reza Daghestani (m), aged 27, Azerbaijani rights activist, student, journalist

Azerbaijani rights activist Reza Daghestani was arrested on 21 February 2008 at his family’s house in the city of Oroumiye. His house was searched and his computer, CDs, papers and books were confiscated, along with printouts of his newsletters. He is in danger of torture.

He called his family the following day to tell them he was being held in a detention centre belonging to the Ministry of Intelligence in Oroumiye. He may have been tortured to force him to provide information, as security forces searched his house a second time on 26 February and appeared to know where to find other papers and books. Reza Daghestani has had no access to a lawyer. His family, who are very religious, have been told he is accused of defamation of the Prophet. It is not clear what this accusation relates to, and there are fears that his family may have been told this so that they would withdraw their support for him. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience held solely on account of his peaceful activities on behalf of Iranian Azerbaijanis.

His family tried to visit him on 25 February, but were not allowed. They have been told that Reza Daghestani will not be allowed to receive visits until at least 10 March.

Reza Daghestani is the editor of a student newsletter, Chamlibel, published in both Azerbaijani Turkic and Persian and he has written for several other publications. His other activities have included starting a series of Azerbaijani Turkic classes in the town of Naghadeh and establishing groups to organize peaceful demonstrations in the province of West Azerbaijan in connection with International Mother Tongue Day, 21 February.

He was a member of the committee of a campaign group called Urmu Azerbaijan Sesi, which actively supported several would-be candidates from Oroumiye who all were disqualified from standing for the Majles (parliament) elections to be held on 14 March. Urmu Azerbaijan Sesi issued a public statement objecting to the “unfair and undemocratic disqualification of its candidates”. Amnesty International believes his arrest is connected to some or all of these peaceful activities.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. The largest minority in Iran, they live mainly in the north and north-west of the country, and in the capital, Tehran. Many Iranian Azerbaijanis demand greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education in Azerbaijani Turkic. Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution states that Persian is the official language of Iran and that “official documents, correspondence and texts, as well as textbooks, must be in this language and script.” It adds that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”

A small minority want Iranian Azerbaijani provinces to break away from Iran and join with the Republic of Azerbaijan. In recent years the authorities have grown increasingly suspicious of Iran’s minority communities, many of which are situated in border areas, and have accused foreign powers such as the US and UK of stirring unrest among them. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani cultural identity and linguistic rights are often charged with vaguely worded offences such as “acting against state security by promoting pan-Turkism”.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, French, Arabic, Persian or your own language:

– Calling on the authorities to release Reza Daghestani immediately and unconditionally, as Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of his peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community

– Seeking assurances that Reza Daghestani is not being tortured;

– Urging the authorities to allow Reza Daghestani immediate and regular access to his family and a lawyer of his choice, and to any medical treatment he may require;

– Reminding the authorities that the use of confessions extracted under duress is prohibited by Article 38 of the constitution of Iran.

APPEALS TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@leader.ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie

Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)

Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:

President

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

via website: www.president.ir/email

Salutation: Your Excellency

Speaker of Parliament

His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel

Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3355 6408

Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 17 April 2008

Further Information on Jelil Ghanilou and other prisoners of Conscience/Torture in Azerbaijan

February 7th, 2008

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/035/2008
7 February 2008

Further Information on UA 61/07 (MDE 13/027/2007, 09 March 2007) and follow-up (MDE 13/067/2007, 7 June 2007) – Prisoners of conscience/Torture

IRAN: Jelil Ghanilou (m)]

Released:
Esma’il Javadi (m), aged 31, journalist]
Ebulfezl Alilu (m)]
Ramin Sadeghi (m) ] Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic
Qahreman Qanbarpour (m)] rights activists
Adel Allahverdipour (m)]
Safar Ali Kho’ini (m)]
Ja’far Haqnazari (m)]

All of those named above, except Jelil Ghanilou have been released. Safar Ali Kho’ini was released on 11 March 2007 on bail totalling around the equivalent of US$325,000. It is not known whether he has been charged or tried. Esma’il Javadi and Ebulfezl Alilu were released on 12 March and on 30 April respectively after a judge dismissed a case against them. Ramin Sadeghi was released on 15 March 2007. However he was sentenced on 20 October 2007 by Branch 14 of Ardabil Revolutionary Court to 50 lashes and a fine of the equivalent of, roughly, US$325. It is not known whether the flogging sentence was carried out. Qahreman Qanbarpour, Adel Allahverdipour and Ja’far Haqnazari have also been released. Amnesty International has no further information concerning them.

Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic rights activist Jelil Ghanilou continues to face torture and interrogation following six months’ arrest and ongoing interrogation, while being moved between prisons in two different cities. He has neither been charged nor given access to legal representation. He has however been allowed to meet with and speak with family members. Amnesty International believes that Jelil Ghanilou is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Jelil Ghanilou was arrested in Zenjan in February 2007 in connection with his participation marking International Mother Language Day. He was released around 10 days later but on 28 May 2007 he was re-arrested following demonstrations marking the anniversary of the publication in May 2007 of a cartoon seen by many Iranian Azerbaijani activists as offensive. It appears that he was then moved to incommunicado detention, prompting a statement by the National Movement of Azerbaijan – Zenjan (Harakat-e Melli-ye Azerbaijan – Zenjan) on 2 June 2007, entitled “Where are Sa’id Metinpour [another Azerbaijani activist] and Jelil Ghanilou?” Amnesty International has now learned that from June 2007, he was repeatedly been moved between Evin Prison in Tehran and a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Zenjan and that he continued to face both interrogation and torture throughout the latter part of 2007 and into 2008.

Amnesty International has learned that Jelil Ghanilou was permitted one family visit in September 2007. By then he had reportedly been deprived of sleep for long periods and faced 24-hour interrogation. Officials also threatened that members of his family could be harmed. He is reported to have required medical treatment several times and when family members apparently tried to post the bail that officials demanded, they were turned away. They reportedly had irregular telephone contact with him in the latter part of 2007, though if he spoke Azerbaijani Turkic, the line was sometimes cut, when conversations in Persian were allowed to continue. Guards watched over him during his telephone conversations.

Jelil Ghanilou has been held in the Ministry of Intelligence-run Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison since 4 December 2007. On 3 February 2008, flanked by guards, he is reported to have said in a telephone conversation that he had been held in solitary confinement for 6 months and that he continued to face torture. Jelil Ghanilou allegedly added that he is no longer afraid to say over the telephone that the psychological pressures of uncertainty, misleading information; of repeated interrogations and threats from the authorities are wearing him down. Secret detention has been shown to facilitate torture and ill treatment. Prolonged incommunicado detention can itself be a form of cruel inhuman and degrading punishment.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. The largest minority in Iran, they live mainly in the north and north-west of the country, and in the capital, Tehran. Many Iranian Azerbaijanis demand greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education in Azerbaijani Turkic. Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution states that Persian is the official language of Iran and that “official documents, correspondence and texts, as well as textbooks, must be in this language and script.” It adds that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Farsi, Arabic, French your own language:
– calling on the authorities to halt any torture that Jelil Ghanilou may continue to face, and ensuring that any such reports are fully investigated and, if necessary, the perpetrators brought to justice;

– urging the authorities to promptly charge Jelil Ghanilou with a recognisably criminal offense and try him in a fair trial or release him;

– expressing concern that Jelil Ghanilou has been detained without charge or access to a lawyer of his choice for over six months, and that prolonged Secret detention has been shown to facilitate torture and ill treatment;

– pointing out that if he is detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience, and would call for his immediate and unconditional release.

APPEALS TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir
istiftaa@wilayah.org
Fax: +98 251 774 2228 (mark FAO Office of His Excellency Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei)
Salutation: Your Excellency

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
Speaker of Parliament
His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408
Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 20 March 2008.

IRAN Sa’id Metinpour (m), journalist, Azerbaijani cultural rights activist and Elirza Metinpour (brother)

January 31st, 2008

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/019/2008

30 January 2008

Further Information on UA 137/07 MDE 13/068/2007, 7 June 2007 and follow-up (MDE 13/106/2007, 23 August 2007) – Concern for safety/Torture, Ill-Treatment

IRAN Sa’id Metinpour (m), journalist, Azerbaijani cultural rights activist and Elirza Metinpour (brother)

Sa’id Metinpour was arrested on 25 May 2007, in the north-western city of Zenjan, and is held in Section 209 of Evin prison, Tehran. In attempts to obtain a videotaped confession the authorities tortured him. On 28 August, the Ministry of Intelligence summoned and arrested his brother, Elirza Metinpour, who was also transferred to Evin prison and subsequently tortured. The brothers are not known to have been formally charged with any offence.

Atiye Taheri, Sa’id Metinpour’s wife, visited him on 17 December. She described his health as being very poor and said that he had lost a lot of weight and that much of his hair had fallen out. He has been in solitary confinement for most of his detention. His bail has been set at the equivalent of approximately US $540,000, a sum which his family cannot afford.

Amnesty International believes that Sa’id and Elirza Metinpour are prisoners of conscience, held solely on account of their peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community. The brothers had previously been arrested for taking part in protests against the restrictions imposed by the authorities on education being delivered in Azerbaijani Turkic. Sa’id Metinpour is an advocate of linguistic and cultural rights for Iranian Azerbaijanis and has criticized the Iranian authorities’ repression of the Azerbaijani minority in articles published in the daily newspaper Merdom-e-nov and other local publications.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. As the largest minority in Iran, they make up 25-30% of the population; they live mainly in the north and north-west of the country and in Tehran. They are demanding greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education in Azerbaijani Turkic. Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution states that Persian is the official language of Iran and that “official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as textbooks, must be in this language and script.” It adds that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”

A small minority want Iranian Azerbaijani provinces to break away from Iran and join with the Republic of Azerbaijan. In recent years the authorities have grown increasingly suspicious of Iran’s minority communities, many of which are situated in border areas, and have accused foreign powers such as the US and UK of stirring unrest among them. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani cultural identity and linguistic rights are often charged with vaguely worded offences such as “acting against state security by promoting pan-Turkism”.

In May 2006, there were massive demonstrations in towns and cities in north-western Iran in protest at a cartoon published on 12 May by the state-owned daily newspaper Iran, which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. Hundreds were arrested during and after the demonstrations. Other waves of arrests have occurred around dates significant to the Azerbaijani community, such as a boycott of the start of the academic year in September 2006; after demonstrations in February 2007 on the occasion of International Mother Tongue day; and on the anniversary of the May 2006 demonstrations.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, French, Farsi, Arabic or your own language:

– calling on the authorities to release Sa’id and Elirza Metinpour immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience, held solely on account of their peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community;

– calling on the authorities to allow Sa’id and Elirza Metinpour immediate and regular access to their family and a lawyer of their choice, and to any medical treatment they may require.

– calling on the authorities to order an immediate investigation into reports that Sa’id and Elirza Metinpour have been tortured, and for anyone found responsible for abuses to be brought to justice;

– reminding the authorities that the use of confessions extracted under duress is prohibited by Article 38 of the constitution of Iran.

APPEALS TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@leader.ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie

Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)

Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:

President

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

via website: www.president.ir/email

Salutation: Your Excellency

Speaker of Parliament

His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel

Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3355 6408

Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 11 March 2008.

Urgent Action: Torture/possible prisoners of conscience/medical concern about Behrouz Seferi and his wife Layla Heydari

January 31st, 2008

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/015/2008

25 January 2008

UA 21/08 Torture/possible prisoners of conscience/medical concern

IRAN

Behrouz Seferi (Safari in Azerbaijani Turkic) (m), Iranian Azerbaijani

Layla Heydari (f), his wife

Iranian Azerbaijani Behrouz Seferi, who has campaigned for Iran’s Azerbaijani minority to be given greater rights to use their mother tongue, is now known to have been detained without charge or trial since late May or early June 2007. His wife, Layla Heydari, has been detained since 28 August. Both are held in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have allegedly been tortured. Neither has been allowed to consult a lawyer.

Behrouz Seferi was arrested shortly after demonstrations around the first anniversary of the publication of a cartoon in an Iranian newspaper which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. He was held in his home town of Zanjan until 4 December, when he was moved to Evin Prison.

Layla Heydari ran a shop selling Azerbaijani books, music and other cultural material until the authorities closed it down in 2006. She obeyed official warnings not to publicise her husband’s arrest, but on 28 August she was summoned to visit him at the Ministry of Intelligence detention centre where he was held at the time, and was arrested. She too was moved to Evin Prison on 4 December.

Their families were allowed to visit them on 31 December, and say they think both have been tortured to make them give “confessions”. Layla Heydari is apparently in poor health, suffering from severe headaches, but has been given very little medical help. She has also reportedly suffered from heart problems, and has had to be treated on the medical wing, whose staff apparently recommended that she be allowed medical treatement outside prison

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who live mainly in the north and north-west of the country and are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are the largest minority in Iran (at least 25-30% of the population). They are increasingly demanding greater cultural and linguistic rights, including the right to education in Azerbaijani Turkic. A small minority want Iranian Azerbaijani provinces to break away from Iran and join with the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Iranian authorities view those who seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity with suspicion, and often charge them with vaguely worded offences such as “acting against state security by promoting pan-Turkism”.

In May 2006, there were massive demonstrations in towns and cities in north-western Iran in protest at a cartoon published on 12 May by the state-owned daily newspaper Iran, which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. Hundreds were arrested during and after the demonstrations. Other waves of arrests have occurred around dates significant to the Azerbaijani community, such as a boycott of the start of the academic year in September 2006; after demonstrations in February 2007 on the occasion of International Mother Tongue day; and on the anniversary of the May 2006 demonstrations.

In recent years the authorities have grown increasingly suspicious of Iran’s minority communities, many of which are situated in border areas, and have accused foreign powers such as the US and UK of fomenting unrest among them.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, English, Arabic, French or your own language:

– expressing concern that Behrouz Seferi and his wife, Layla Heydari, have been detained without charge for some months, and asking why they were arrested;

– calling on the authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally if they are held solely for their peaceful activism on behalf of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, or else charge them with recognisably criminal offences and try them promptly and fairly;

– urging them to investigate reports that Behrouz Seferi and Layla Heydari have been tortured, and bring anyone found responsible for abuses to justice;

– reminding the authorities that the use of confessions extracted under duress is prohibited by Article 38 of the constitution of Iran.

APPEALS TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader, Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@leader.ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary

Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie

Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:

President

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

via website: www.president.ir/email

Speaker of Parliament

His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel

Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3355 6408

Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir (Please ask that your message be brought to the attention of the Article 90 Commission)

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 7 March 2008.

Urgent Action: Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi (m), Azerbaijani language rights activist, Prisoner of conscience/fear of torture

August 31st, 2007

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/108/2007

31 August 2007

UA 229/07
Prisoner of conscience/fear of torture

IRAN, Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi (m), Azerbaijani language rights activist

Azerbaijani language rights activist Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi was beaten and detained on 14 May at his home in Tabriz: he was reportedly first held at a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre, then moved on around 1 August to Tabriz’s central prison, where his mother was able to visit him. She told an interviewer from the Voice of America (VOA) Azerbaijani-language radio station that he had been tortured. The following day he was apparently moved to a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre somewhere in Tabriz, where he is at grave risk of torture. He has not been formally charged with any offence.

On 4 August, his mother, Jamileh Kazimi, had told the VOA Azerbaijani-language service that her son had been detained for his defence of Iranian Azerbaijanis’ right to use their language. She said that he had been tortured, causing his teeth to be broken, hair to be pulled from his scalp, and blue bruising marks all over his face and body.

His father, Rahim Banayi Kazimi, who has been able to visit him once, reportedly stated that his son had begun a hunger strike to draw attention to his plight, but it is not known whether he is continuing with it.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are the largest minority in Iran, constituting at least 25-30 per cent of the population. They live mainly in the north and north-west of the country. They are increasingly demanding greater cultural and linguistic rights, including the right to education in their mother tongue of Azerbaijani Turkic. A small minority advocate secession of Iranian Azerbaijan from the Islamic Republic of Iran and union with the Republic of Azerbaijan. Those who seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity are viewed with suspicion by the Iranian authorities, who often accuse them of vague charges such as “promoting pan-Turkism”.

In May 2006, massive demonstrations took place in towns and cities in north-western Iran, where the majority of the population is Iranian Azerbaijani, in protest at a cartoon published on 12 May by the state-owned daily newspaper Iran, which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. Hundreds were arrested during and after the demonstrations. Other waves of arrests have occurred around dates significant to the Azerbaijani community, such as a boycott of the start of the academic year in September 2006, after demonstrations in February 2007 on the occasion of International Mother Tongue day, and on the anniversary of the May 2006 demonstrations.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Azerbaijani Turkic, Turkish, Arabic, English, French or your own language:
– expressing concern at reports that Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi has been detained since 14 May without access to legal representation of his choice or medical care, and has been tortured;
– urging the authorities to investigate his alleged torture and protect him from further torture or other ill-treatment;
– calling on the authorities to enable Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi to seek independent medical care;
– asking why he was arrested, including details of any charges brought against him;
– urging the authorities to release Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi unless he is to be charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence;
– expressing concern that Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi appears to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his defence of the right of the Azerbaijani people in Iran to use their own language.
APPEALS TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Parliamentary representative for Tabriz, Oskou and Azar Shahr
Akbar A’lami,
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408
Email: alami@majlis.ir
Salutation: Dear Sir
COPIES TO:

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 12 October 2007

Saleh Kamrani (m), aged about 35, lawyer and human rights defender, Prisoner of Conscience/Fear of torture or ill-treatment/Medical concern

August 23rd, 2007

PUBLIC, AI Index: MDE 13/105/2007
23 August 2007

UA 220/07
Prisoner of Conscience/Fear of torture or ill-treatment/Medical concern

IRAN, Saleh Kamrani (m), aged about 35, lawyer and human rights defender

Human rights defender Saleh Kamrani was arrested on 18 August, and is held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He is at risk of torture or ill-treatment. He needs regular medication for a heart condition.

Amnesty International believes that he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely in connection with his legitimate activities as a lawyer and for the peaceful exercise of his internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and association in support of greater rights for the Iranian Azerbaijani community.

He was arrested at a family wedding in the city of Karaj, near Tehran. Four men in plain clothes took him away from the wedding to the house where he was staying, where they confiscated his computer, documents, family photographs and his wife’s camera, as well as documents and photographs belonging to the owner of the house.

His family did not know what had happened until 21 August, when he was allowed a brief phone call in which he told his wife that he was in Section 209. He was apparently not allowed to speak in his native language, Azerbaijani Turkic, so could not speak to his mother, who does not understand Persian. He apparently said he did not know why he had been arrested, but believed it might have been connected to his arrest in 2006, when he was detained for three months because of his work representing Iranian Azerbaijanis and others, and for the peaceful exercise of his internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and association in support of greater rights for the Iranian Azerbaijani community.

He had been arrested on 14 June 2006 on the way home from work. His family only found out on 18 June that he was being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison. He spent 97 days in solitary confinement and was subjected to psychological torture, including threats that his wife would be arrested. He was questioned about all aspects of his life and was threatened. The evidence against him reportedly included speeches, interviews and correspondence from the previous 15 years, recorded telephone conversations, SMS messages, statements from his brothers which had been extracted under torture and even included a picture of Saleh Kamrani wearing a tie, regarded by the authorities as a sign of western influence. He was accused of contacting human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, and having contact with foreigners, including Israelis. He was not allowed to take the medication he needs to control his heart rate because of a defective heart valve, and his condition reportedly worsened as a result. (See UA 171/06, MDE 13/067/2006 and follow-ups.) On 18 September 2006 he was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, suspended for five years, for “spreading propaganda against the system”. He was released, but the authorities retained his lawyer’s card, without which he could not return to work as a lawyer.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are the largest minority in Iran, constituting at least 25-30 per cent of the population. They live mainly in the north and north-west of Iran. There is a growing demand for greater cultural and linguistic rights among Iranian Azerbaijanis, including the right to education in their mother tongue of Azerbaijani Turkic. A small minority advocate secession of Iranian Azerbaijan from the Islamic Republic of Iran and union with the Republic of Azerbaijan. Those who seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity are viewed with suspicion by the Iranian authorities, who often accuse them of vague charges such as “promoting pan-Turkism”.

In May 2006, massive demonstrations took place in towns and cities in north-western Iran, where the majority of the population is Iranian Azerbaijani, in protest at a cartoon published on 12 May by the state-owned daily newspaper Iran, which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. Hundreds were arrested during and after the demonstrations. Other waves of arrests have occurred around dates significant to the Azerbaijani community, such as a boycott of the start of the academic year in September 2006, after demonstrations in February 2007 on the occasion of International Mother Tongue day, and on the anniversary of the May 2006 demonstrations.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:
– expressing concern that Saleh Kamrani was detained on 18 August, and calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community;
– asking why he was arrested, including any charges brought against him;
– urging the authorities to protect him from torture or ill-treatment;
– urging them to give him immediate and regular access to his family and a lawyer of his choice, and to all necessary medical treatment.

APPEALS TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency

Speaker of Parliament
His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408
Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 4 October 2007.

Fear of torture or ill-treatment/ Possible prisoner of conscience, Sa’id Metinpour (m), journalist, Azerbaijani cultural rights activist

August 23rd, 2007

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/106/2007

23 August 2007

Further Information on UA 137/07 (MDE 13/068/2007, 7 June 2007) Fear of torture or ill-treatment/ Possible prisoner of conscience

IRAN, Sa’id Metinpour (m), journalist, Azerbaijani cultural rights activist

Sa’id Metinpour is now known to be held in Section 209 of Evin prison in Tehran, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He has reportedly been tortured, apparently to try to force him to make a videotaped “confession”. He is believed to be held mainly in solitary confinement. According to other detainees, his health is poor as a result of the treatment he has suffered.

He was arrested on 25 May in the north-western city of Zenjan. Amnesty International believes that he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of his peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community. He has not been allowed to meet his family or his lawyer, and his sole contact with the outside world has been a few extremely brief telephone calls to his family.

Prior his arrest in May, Sa’id Metinpour had been detained in February 2007 and held for 10 days in connection with his participation in peaceful demonstrations marking International Mother Language Day, an annual event initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on 21 February.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis demonstrated throughout May 2007 to mark the first anniversary of protests during which the security forces reportedly killed up to 19 people and arrested hundreds. The May 2006 protests were organised against the publication in a national newspaper of a cartoon which was offensive to many Iranian Azerbaijanis.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:
– expressing concern at reports that Sa’id Metinpour has been tortured;
– calling on the authorities to order an immediate investigation into the reports that Sa’id Metinpour has been tortured, and for anyone found responsible for abuses to be brought to justice;
– calling on the authorities to allow Sa’id Metinpour immediate and regular access to his family and a lawyer of his choice, and to any medical treatment he may require.
– calling on the authorities to release Sa’id Metinpour immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of his peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community;
APPEALS TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency

Speaker of Parliament
His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408
Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 4 October 2007.

Fear of torture or ill-treatment/ incommunicado detention, Mehdi Mohammadpour (m)

June 7th, 2007

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/070/2007
7 June 2007

UA 140/07 Fear of torture or ill-treatment/ incommunicado detention

IRAN Mehdi Mohammadpour (m) ]
Hossein Nasiri (also known as Hüseyn Nəsiri) (m) ] Azerbaijani rights activists
Iranian Azerbaijani rights activists Mehdi Mohammadpour and Hossein Nasiri (also known as Hüseyn Nəsiri) are reportedly being detained incommunicado and are consequently at risk of torture or ill-treatment. Both men appear to have been detained in connection with their participation in demonstrations for Azerbaijani linguistic and cultural rights.

Mehdi Mohammadpour was reportedly arrested on 19 May by a number of plain-clothes officials from the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Ardabil in north-western Iran. His whereabouts and the reason for his detention are unknown, and the authorities have allegedly refused to confirm that they are holding him. Mehdi Mohammadpour’s family were informed of his apparent arrest by an eyewitness who saw him being taken away.

Mehdi Mohammadpour had previously been detained between 11 May and 14 May by Ministry of Intelligence officials. Reports suggest that he was ill-treated in detention, and had to be taken to hospital by his family on his release. He was discharged from hospital on 17 May. Amnesty International has no information on his current state of health nor whether he was charged with any offence.

Hossein Nasiri was reportedly arrested and detained on 27 April by Ministry of Intelligence officials and is said to have been tortured in order to force him to make “confessions”, the nature of which is unknown to Amnesty International. On 4 June he was reportedly transferred from a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility to Tabriz’s central prison, indicating that he will not be granted bail.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. The largest minority in Iran, they are believed to constitute between 25-30 per cent of the population and are located mainly in the north and north-west of Iran and in the capital, Tehran. There is a growing demand for greater cultural and linguistic rights in Iranian Azerbaijan, including implementation of their constitutional right to education through the medium of Azerbaijani Turkic. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani Turkic cultural identity and linguistic rights are viewed with suspicion by the Iranian authorities.

Throughout May 2007, Iranian Azerbaijanis demonstrated to mark the first anniversary of protests against the publication in a national newspaper of a cartoon which was offensive to many Iranian Azerbaijanis. In the course of the May 2006 demonstrations, up to 19 individuals were reportedly killed and hundreds arrested.

During the May 2007 demonstrations, which asserted Azerbaijani linguistic and cultural rights, demonstrators shouted slogans such as “Türk dilinde medrese olmalıdır her kese” (Schooling in Azerbaijani Turkic for all). The events resulted in a considerable increase in tension in a range of the areas where Iranian Azerbaijanis live. The authorities have increased the security presence in mainly Azerbaijani cities and Amnesty International has received reports of scores of arrests, harassment of demonstrators and passers-by in cities such as Tabriz. Reports suggest that in late May, police in the cities of Urumiye, Naghadeh and Miyandoab were stopping and searching young people who were walking in groups of two and three on the street.

According to the Committee for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (Azerbaycan Siyasi Mahpuslarını Müdafaa Komitesi, ASMEK) website, more than 500 political activists have been detained or have been the victims of enforced disappearance in recent weeks. On 7 May, the Minister of the Interior was summoned to parliament to respond to concerns over the use of force and violence against demonstrators, expressed by parliamentarians from Azerbaijani regions. Amnesty International is seeking further information about a number of Iranian Azerbaijanis who are believed to have been arrested.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Persian, Azerbaijani or your own language:
– expressing concern at reports that Mehdi Mohammadpour and Hossein Nasiri (also known as Hüseyn Nəsiri) are being detained incommunicado, noting that incommunicado detention facilitates torture;
– calling on the authorities to grant Mehdi Mohammadpour and Hossein Nasiri immediate and regular access to their families, legal representatives of their choice, and any medical treatment the two men may require;
– calling for assurances that the two men are being treated humanely while in detention and are not being tortured or ill-treated;
– stating that if Mehdi Mohammadpour and Hossein Nasiri are being detained solely as a result of the expression of their conscientiously held beliefs, Amnesty International would consider them prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release.

APPEALS TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir, istiftaa@wilayah.org
Fax: +98 251 774 2228 (mark FAO Office of His Excellency Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei)
Salutation: Your Excellency

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir, via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
Speaker of Parliament
His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408
Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 19 July 2007.

Further Information on Prisoners of conscience/torture (8 activists)

June 7th, 2007

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/067/2007

07 June 2007

Further Information on UA 61/07 (MDE 13/027/2007, 09 March 2007) Prisoners of conscience/torture

IRAN Esma’il Javadi (m), aged 31, journalist ]

Ebulfezl Alilu (m) ]

Ramin Sadeghi (m) ] Azerbaijani cultural and linguistic

Qahreman Qanbarpour (m) ] rights activists

Adel Allahverdipour (m) ]

Jelil Qanilu, or (new spelling) Ghanilou (m) ]

Safar Ali Kho’ini (m) ]

Ja’far Haqnazari (m) ]

Jelil Qanilu, or Ghanilou, was reportedly released around 10 days after his arrest in Zenjan on 21 February, but has reportedly now been rearrested. He was among 25 people detained in connection with their participation in events marking International Mother Language Day.

In a 28 May report in the online news service Advar News, Jelil Ghanilou’s brother was quoted as saying he had been rearrested at 10pm the previous day.

Amnesty International has no further information about Jelil Ghanilou, who may be a prisoner of conscience, and is concerned for his safety. Secret detention has been shown to facilitate torture and ill-treatment. Prolonged incommunicado detention can in itself be a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

A statement issued by the National Movement of Azerbaijan – Zenjan (Harakat-e Melli-ye Azerbaijan – Zenjan) on 2 June entitled “Where are Sa’id Metinpour and Jelil Ghanilou?” drew attention to the authorities’ failure to provide any information about the men’s whereabouts, especially to their families, and to allegations that the authorities were putting pressure on newspapers in Zenjan, particularly Mardom-e No (New People), which had attempted to report on the arrests, in order to keep these and other arrests secret.

The rearrest of Jelil Ghanilou took place at around the time of a series of demonstrations that started in late May and which have affected most areas where Iranian Azerbaijanis live. The demonstrations were held following the first anniversary of widespread and often spontaneous demonstrations which took place on 22 May 2006 in protest at the publication in a national newspaper of a cartoon which was offensive to many Iranian Azerbaijanis. In the course of the May 2006 demonstrations up to 19 people were reportedly killed and hundreds arrested.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. The largest minority in Iran, they are believed to make up 25-30 per cent of the population; they live mainly in the north and north-west of the country, and in the capital, Tehran. There is a growing demand from them for greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education through the medium of Azerbaijani Turkic. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani cultural identity and linguistic rights are viewed with suspicion by the authorities.

Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution states that Persian is the official language of Iran and that “official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as textbooks, must be in this language and script.” It adds that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”

International Mother Language Day is an annual event initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and is held on 21 February. See: Iran: Ethnic minorities facing new wave of human rights violations, (MDE 13/020/200, 26 February 2007) at [1] web.amnesty.or…

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Persian, Azerbaijani or your own language:
– expressing concern at the reports that Jelil Ghanilou has been rearrested and is now in secret detention;

– urging the authorities to grant Jelil Ghanilou immediate and regular access to his family and to lawyers of his choice;

– stating that if the reason for his continued detention is solely related to the expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, then he is a prisoner of conscience, and should be released immediately and unconditionally;

– seeking assurances that Jelil Ghanilou is being protected from torture or ill-treatment and that he has access to any medical treatment he may require.

APPEALS TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader

Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: [2] info@leader.ir

[3] istiftaa@wilay…

Fax: +98 251 774 2228 (mark FAO Office of His Excellency Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei)

Salutation: Your Excellency

President

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: [4] dr-ahmadinejad…

via website: www.president.ir/email

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)

Email: [5] info@dadgostar… (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:

Speaker of Parliament

His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel

Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3355 6408

Email: [6] hadadadel@majl…

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 19 July 2007.

IRAN Sa’id Metinpour (m), Azerbaijani cultural rights activist

June 7th, 2007

PUBLIC                                                                                                          AI Index: MDE 13/068/2007        
                                                                                                                                           07 June 2007
 

UA 137/07            Fear of torture or ill-treatment/ possible prisoner of conscience                 
 

IRAN                   Sa’id Metinpour (m), Azerbaijani cultural rights activist


Sa’id Metinpour, an advocate of linguistic and cultural rights for Iranians of Azerbaijani ethnicity, including their right to be educated in the Azerbaijani Turkic language, has not been seen since 25 May. He may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. If he is detained, Amnesty International believes that he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of his beliefs.
 
A report on the Iranian Azerbaijani website Haqqimiz (Our Rights) stated that Sa’id Metinpour was detained in the city of Zenjan in western Iran around midnight on 25 May. A further report in Advar News, an online news service, indicated that Sa’id Metinpour and his wife, Atiye Taheri, were returning to their home when they were stopped by plain-clothed officials from the Ministry of Intelligence, who told them that they had arrest warrants for the couple. The officials reportedly showed Sa’id Metinpour and Atiye Taheri an arrest warrant which was not officially stamped and signed by a relevant official from the judiciary. The couple were then forced into a vehicle and blindfolded. They were apparently driven to an unknown location, where Sa’id Metinpour was taken out of the vehicle. Atiye Taheri was then driven to their home, accompanied by Ministry of Intelligence officials. On arrival at their home, the officials reportedly spent almost five hours searching through the couple’s belongings, removing notebooks, cassette tapes and albums of family photographs. They then searched the home of Sa’id Metinpour’s father, located in a flat above Sa’id Metinpour and Atiye Taheri’s home. It is not known if they took anything from his home.
 

No further information about the apparent detention of Sa’id Metinpour is available to Amnesty International. Atiye Taheri has reportedly sought information about his whereabouts from the state prosecution and judiciary but was told by both that they are unaware of his case.
 

A statement issued by the National Movement of Azerbaijan – Zenjan (Harakat-e Melli-ye Azerbaijan – Zenjan) on 2 June claims that the authorities are putting pressure on local newspapers not to publicize information about the alleged arrest of Sa’id Metinpour and others (see update to UA 61/07, MDE 13/067/2007, 7June 2007).   
 

In February 2007, Sa’id Metinpour was detained for 10 days in connection with his participation in peaceful demonstrations commemorating International Mother Language Day, an annual event initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on 21 February. He was said to have had blood on his face when he was taken away, raising concern that he may have been assaulted by police. For more information, see: Iran: Ethnic minorities facing new wave of human rights violations, (MDE 13/020/2007, 26 February 2007): http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engMDE130202007?open&of=eng-IRN
 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language and are mainly Shi’a Muslims. The largest minority in Iran, they are believed to constitute between 25-30 per cent of the population and are located mainly in the north and north-west of Iran and in the capital, Tehran. There is a growing demand for greater cultural and linguistic rights in Iranian Azerbaijan, including implementation of their constitutional right to education through the medium of Azerbaijani Turkic. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani Turkic cultural identity and linguistic rights are viewed with suspicion by the Iranian authorities.
 

Throughout May 2007, Iranian Azerbaijanis demonstrated to mark the first anniversary of protests against the publication in a national newspaper of a cartoon which was offensive to many Iranian Azerbaijanis. In the course of the May 2006 demonstrations, up to 19 individuals were reportedly killed and hundreds arrested.
 

During the May 2007 demonstrations, which asserted Azerbaijani linguistic and cultural rights, demonstrators shouted slogans such as “Türk dilinde medrese olmalıdır her kese” (Schooling in Azerbaijani Turkic for all). The events resulted in a considerable increase in tension in a range of the areas where Iranian Azerbaijanis live. The authorities have increased the security presence in mainly Azerbaijani cities and Amnesty International has received reports of scores of arrests, harassment of demonstrators and passers-by in cities such as Tabriz. According to the Committee for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (Azerbaycan Siyasi Mahpuslarını Müdafaa Komitesi, ASMEK) website, more than 500 political activists have been detained or have been the victims of enforced disappearance in recent weeks. On 7 May, the Minister of the Interior was summoned to parliament to respond to concerns over the use of force and violence against demonstrators, expressed by parliamentarians from Azerbaijani regions.
 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Persian, Azerbaijani or your own language:

– expressing concern at the apparent enforced disappearance of Sa’id Metinpour;
– calling on the authorities to reveal his whereabouts immediately, and, if he is in custody, to grant him immediate and regular access to family members, to a lawyer of his choice, and to any medical treatment he may require;
calling for assurances that he is being treated humanely and is not being tortured or ill-treated;
– stating that if Sa’id Metinpour is being detained solely as a result of the expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, he is a prisoner of conscience, who should be released immediately and unconditionally.
 APPEALS TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir, istiftaa@wilayah.org
Fax: +98 251 774 2228 (mark FAO Office of His Excellency Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei)
Salutation: Your Excellency
 

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency
 COPIES TO:
Speaker of Parliament
His Excellency Gholamali Haddad Adel
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408
Email: hadadadel@majlis.ir
 

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.
 PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 19 July 2007

IRAN Hossein Forouhideh, also known as Khatibi (m), Iraj Naji (m), his cousin – Death penalty/torture

May 30th, 2007

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/062/2007

30 May 2007

UA 128/07 Death penalty/torture

IRAN Hossein Forouhideh, also known as Khatibi (m), Iraj Naji (m), his cousin

Hossein Forouhideh, an advocate of linguistic and social rights for Iranians of Azerbaijani ethnicity, is reportedly facing imminent execution.

He has allegedly been tortured. His cousin, Iraj Naji, is in solitary confinement and Amnesty International fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Hossein Forouhideh, from the Khoy region of Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, was reportedly sentenced to death by Bench One of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Urumiye, in West Azerbaijan province. He was reportedly accused of spying for Turkey, but the charges of which he was convicted are not known. He has reportedly spent more than nine months in a detention facility under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Urumiye. Torture has allegedly left him with extensive bruising to his torso and a number of broken ribs.

In March the authorities told his mother, who lives in Khoy, that he had already been executed, and that she should collect his body from the detention facility. When she got there, the guards told her that Hossein Forouhideh had not yet been executed.

She recently visited the detention facility again, but was not allowed to visit her son, and fears he has been tortured.

Hossein Forouhideh’s wife is a Turkish citizen who lives in eastern Turkey.

She has reportedly stated that she has not been able to obtain information about her husband since at least September 2006. Hossein Forouhideh’s father and a brother also live in Turkey.

Hossein Forouhideh’s cousin Iraj Naji has reportedly been held in solitary confinement in Urumiye since around October 2006. He is said to be accused of undertaking actions on behalf of Turkey and inciting the people of Khoy to demonstrate, in May 2006, against the publication in the state-owned daily newspaper Iran of a caricature which many Iranian Azerbaijanis considered offensive. Its publication resulted in widespread demonstrations in areas of Azerbaijani settlement in which hundreds, possibly thousands,of demonstrators were arrested, and demonstrators were shot by the authorities.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language known as Azerbaijani Turkic.
Mainly Shi’a Muslims, they are the largest ethnic minority in Iran, believed to constitute 25-30 percent of the population. They live mainly in the north and north-west of the country. As Shi’a, they are not subject to as much discrimination as minorities of other religions, and are well-integrated into the economy, but there is a growing demand for greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education through the medium of Azerbaijani Turkic.

A small minority advocate secession of Iranian Azerbaijan from the Islamic Republic of Iran and union with the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Iranian authorities view those who seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity with suspicion, and often accuse them of vague charges such as “promoting pan-Turkism”.

The publication of the caricature in Iran led to waves of demonstrations broke out in towns and cities in north-west Iran, after the newspaper was suspended.. At first on a on a small scale, mainly among Iranian Azerbaijani students in universities in the city of Tabriz in East Azerbaijan province, and in the capital, Tehran, protests moved rapidly to other Iranian Azerbaijani areas. A huge demonstration took place in Tabriz on 22 May and further demonstrations were held in other places in the following days. Most of these protests were peaceful, but some ended with attacks on government buildings and cars and were met, in places, by the
use of lethal force and mass arrests. Some Iranian Azerbaijani sources have claimed these attacks were instigated by government agents.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible,in English, Persian, Azerbaijani or your own language:
– expressing concern that Hossein Forouhideh may be facing imminent execution;
– calling on the authorities to halt the execution;
– acknowledging that governments have a responsibility to bring to justice

those suspected of criminal offences, but stating your unconditional opposition to the death penalty, as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and violation of the right to life;
– expressing concern at reports that Hossein Forouhideh may have been
tortured;
– seeking assurances that he and his cousin Iraj Naji are no longer at risk of torture or ill-treatment;
– seeking assurances that Hossein Forouhideh and Iraj Naji will be given access to their families and to all necessary medical care, outside the detention facility if necessary;
– seeking details of the specific charges against each man, and details of trials that they have faced.

APPEALS TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir
istiftaa@wilayah.org
Fax: +98 251 7774 2228 (mark FAO Office of His Excellency Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: info@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

COPIES TO:
President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
via website: www.president.ir/email
Salutation: Your Excellency

Governor of West Azarbaijan Province
Doctor Rahim Ghorbani
Email: via: http://www.ostan-ag.gov.ir/contactus.asp (write your name in the top line, your email address in the second line and the message in the larger box. Click right-hand button to send the message.

Salutation: Dear Sir

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 6 July 2007. Working to protect human rights worldwide

Iran: Further information on fear for safety/ Unfair trial/ Possible prisoner of conscience: Reza Abbasi (m)

May 20th, 2007

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/056/2007
18 May 2007

Further Information on UA 246/06 (MDE 13/128/2006, 28 November 2006) and follow-up (MDE 13/101/2006, 12 September 2006) – Fear for safety/Unfair trial/Possible prisoner of conscience

IRAN Reza Abbasi (m), human rights defender

Human rights defender Reza Abbasi was released on 16 May, a month before the end of his sentence.

He is a founder member of an organization which has been active in promoting democracy and human rights, ASMEK (Committee for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners), and of the Alumni Association of Iran (Sazman-e Danesh Amukhtegan-e Iran-e Eslami (Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat).

In an interview the day he was released with journalist and blogger Haq, Reza Abbasi said that the previous day prison authorities had asked him to “demand” his freedom, which he refused to do. On 16 May he was summoned from his cell and told that he would be transferred to another prison and that before this he would be able to meet with his family. The prison vehicle brought him to his house, where, without explanation, he was freed. He had not been scheduled to be released until 22 June.

Reza Abbasi had been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in mid-October 2006: six months for “insulting the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and another six months for “propaganda against the system”. He had been held in Zenjan Central Prison since his arrest, on 27 June 2006. Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of his peaceful activities on behalf of the Iranian Azerbaijani community in Iran.

Writing to Amnesty International, a colleague of Reza Abbasi said that “We are well aware that your appeals, aimed at increasing the pressure about him, were very effective and for that we are very thankful.”

No further action is requested from the UA network. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.