URGENT ACTION: Azerbaijanis arrested in lake protests

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

URGENT ACTION: FOOTBALL JOURNALIST HELD WITHOUT CHARGE

URGENT ACTION: FOOTBALL JOURNALIST HELD WITHOUT CHARGE

Football journalist Abdollah Sadoughi was arrested in the city of Tabriz, north-west Iran, on 18 January, after publishing a poster supporting the city’s Traktor Sazi football team. He is held without charge at Tabriz prison, and is on hunger strike in protest at what he considers to be his baseless detention. He is a prisoner of conscience, held for peacefully expressing his views.

Abdollah Sadoughi, aged 33, a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, writes for the Iranian publications Goal, Corner and Khosh Khabar (Good News). He supports Tabriz’s Traktor Sazi football team. The authorities have accused him of acts “against national security” including supporting “Pan-Turkism” for publishing posters, one of which says, in the Azerbaijani Turkic language, “All of Azerbaijan feels pride with you”, alongside an image of the football team. Abdollah Sadoughi maintains he had permission from the relevant authorities to the print posters. Azerbaijani Turkic is not recognized as an official language in Iran. Those who seek to promote Azerbaijani cultural identity and linguistic rights are viewed with suspicion by the Iranian authorities.

In late February, Abdollah Sadoughi began a hunger strike. According to media reports, soon after starting his hunger strike he was transferred to solitary confinement and held in filthy conditions, and then moved to a cell with criminal convicts. On 2 March 2010, having lost considerable weight and suffering from various medical problems, he was transferred to the clinic within Tabriz prison. Abdollah Sadoughi has been able to meet his lawyer and his family, most recently on 6 March, when he said he would continue his hunger strike until he is released or brought before a court.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, Turkish or your own language:
 Calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Abdollah Sadoughi, as he is a prisoner of conscience held solely for his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression;
 Urging the authorities to ensure that he receives adequate medical treatment, as well as regular visits from his lawyers and family, and is protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
 Reminding the authorities that, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is obliged to uphold the right to freedom of expression and that linguistic minorities have the right to use their own language.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 20 APRIL 2010 TO:

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

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh 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
Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986
Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com (In subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
Salutation: Dear Mr Larijani
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

URGENT ACTION: FOOTBALL JOURNALIST HELD WITHOUT CHARGE

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized as the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute 25 to 30 per cent of the 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 be educated in the Azerbaijani Turkic language, which they believe is provided for under Iran’s Constitution, and to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history at cultural events.

Football games involving the Traktor Sazi football team in Tabriz have reportedly become the focus for the expression of Azerbaijani Turkic culture. During games, calls – in Azerbaijani Turkic – are reported to be made by supporters, for linguistic and cultural rights for Iranian Azerbaijanis.

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 para 90, recommendations 52-58 at http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/A_HRC_WG-6_7_L-11_Iran.pdf) 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 para 92,)

UA: 51/10 Index: MDE 13/030/2010 Issue Date: 09 March 2010

Iran: Election amid repression of dissent and unrest

MDE 13/053/2009

9 June 2009

Iran: Election amid repression of dissent and unrest

The Iranian presidential elections are to be held this month on 12 June. The candidates are: the incumbent President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Mohsen Rezaei, a former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps; Former Prime Minister, Mir Hossein Mousavi (backed by former president, MohammadKhatami); and Mehdi Karroubi, a former parliamentary speaker.

While Amnesty International welcomes pledges from some of the candidates to address the prevailing discrimination against women in the country – an issue which has been forced to the forefront of the debate by the efforts of women’s rights activists – and ethnic minorities and to tackle economic issues to improve the welfare of the population, there are other serious human rights concerns which also need addressing. These include severe curtailments of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and a high recourse to the death penalty (including against juvenile offenders) as well as incidents of people being stoned to death.

At least 194 people have been executed so far this year in Iran, including five women and three juveniles convicted of crimes allegedly committed before they were 18, a practice strictly prohibited under international law.

At least 140 juveniles are known to be on death row in Iran.

At least one person has been stoned to death this year in Iran, despite a 2002 directive from the Head of the Judiciary ordering a moratorium on stonings. Amnesty International is aware of seven women and three men currently under sentence of death by stoning.

The election period has also seen increased repression, both of people expressing their opinions directly about the elections, or of those seen to be opposed to the system in some way, including students, women’s rights activists, lawyers and unrecognized religious minorities, such as the Baha’is and the Ahl-e Haq.

Amnesty International is also concerned that all but four of the candidates have been excluded from standing, including all women, on the grounds of discriminatory criteria. The Council of Guardians is the body which screens all candidates for election to “ensure their suitability for the Presidency”. Article 115 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran stipulates that candidates must be from “religious and political personalities” [Persian: rejal] and possess: “Iranian origin; Iranian nationality; administrative capacity and resourcefulness; a good past record; trustworthiness and piety; convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country.” In previous elections, the majority of candidates registered were disqualified under these criteria, including all women. The exclusion of women appears to have been as a result of an interpretation of the word rejalas meaning “men”.

Amnesty International is concerned about the increasing number of arrests in recent weeks leading up to the presidential elections, which indicates worsening repression of people who want to express their opinions:

In the pre-election period, Amnesty International has received reports suggesting increased waves of arbitrary arrests and harassment targeting in particular members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minority communities, including Baha’is and converts from Islam, students, trade unionists and women’s rights activists.

By imprisoning people for merely expressing dissenting views, the Iranian authorities are stifling the free debate which is a pre-requisite of elections. Citizens should be able to freely express their grievances and their demands so that candidates can address them.

Jelveh Javaheri, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign (also known as the Campaign for Equality), which is collecting signatures to a petition demanding equal rights for women was released on bail on 7 June. She is one of around 150 people arrested on 1 May 2009. Most – including Jelveh Javaheri’s journalist husband Kaveh Mozaffari who is still detained along with several others – were arrested in Laleh Park in Tehran where a celebration of International Workers’ Day was being held. Jelveh Javaheri, however, was arrested at home without an arrest warrant when security officials came with her husband to search their house. She has since been charged with “acting against national security through membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign and with the aim of disrupting public order and security.” At least three other women associated with the Campaign for Equality are currently imprisoned, including Alieh Aghdam-Doust who is serving a three-year prison sentence.

The campaign of Mir Hossein Mousavi – himself a member of the Azerbaijani minority – has attracted allegations of racism after a video posted on YouTube on 14 May allegedly showed former President Mohammad Khatami (who supports Mr Mousavi) making comments belittling Iranian Azerbaijanis. Mr Khatami has since stated that the video was a fake. In the days after the video surfaced, hundreds of Azerbaijani activists held rallies and organized protests, demanding an apology from Mr Khatami. Some have been arrested and are being held in incommunicado detention.

For example, on 22 May, in a government-organized rally in El Goli (also known as Shah Golu) Park in Tabriz, in north-west Iran, a group of Azerbaijanis protested against the Khatami video and demanded that education be made available in the Azerbaijani Turkic language. Ali Reza Farshi, a professor in the Islamic Azad University of Marand, north-west of Tabriz, along with 14 other protestors were reportedly arrested and are believed to be still detained. Four of the protestors are reported to have suffered injuries and were bleeding as they were taken away. There is no information on their health.

On 27 May, Emad Bahavar, head of the youth wing of the Iran Freedom Party who was campaigning for the presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested on charges of “propaganda against the system”. He has since been released on bail.

At least two university students – Abbas Hakimzadeh and Mehdi Mashayekhi remain detained without trial by the Ministry of Intelligence in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran following their arrests in February 2009. Other students arrested with them who have since been released have said that they were tortured in detention. On 28 April 2009, a Revolutionary Court judge said that eight students, including those still detained, had been accused of cooperating with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an opposition group based in exile. He added that they had intended to carry out some activities in the university during the forthcoming election.

Following a fierce clash in April between members of the Kurdish armed opposition group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) and security forces in which at least 18 policemen were killed, dozens of Kurds are reported to have been arrested. Others were said to be detained following the eight-day visit of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamene’i, to Kordestan Province in mid-May.

In the run-up to the elections violent unrest has intensified in Sistan-Baluchistan province in south-eastern Iran. A member of the armed Baluch group, the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PRMI), carried out a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in the provincial capital of Zahedan on 28 May. Up to 25 people were reported to have been killed and dozens more were injured. The PRMI said that the attack was a reprisal for the execution of several Sunni clerics in recent years. Amnesty International has condemned the attack on the mosque.

Less than 48 hours after the bombing, three men were hanged in public near the site of the attack amid claims that they were responsible. Later comments clarified that the three men had been in detention at the time of the bombing, but they had “confessed” to providing the explosives used in the bombing. Further unrest broke out afterwards with up to ten people killed, and dozens arrested.

Iran’s Baluch minority – in common with other minorities in Iran – suffer discrimination by the state authorities leading to gross violations of their economic, social and cultural rights. They live mainly in the provinces of Sistan-Balouchistan and Kerman and are believed to constitute between one and three per cent of the country’s total population of around 70 million. They are mainly Sunni Muslims, whereas the majority of Iran’s population are Shi’a Muslims.

Risk of Imminent Execution, Ahle-Haq prisoners

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 Fear for safety, fear of torture and ill treatment of Azerbaijani students

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/177/2008

15 December 2008

Further Information on UA 271/08 (MDE 13/142/2008, 23 September 2008) and follow-up (MDE 13/170/2008, 21 November 2008) – Fear for safety/fear of torture or other ill treatment/possible prisoners of conscience

IRAN:
Maqsoud Ahdi (m) ]
Mansour Aminian (m) ]
Dariush Hatemi (m), aged 29 ]
Aydin Khaje’i (m), aged 23 ] student activists for the cultural rights of Iranian Azerbaijanis
Amir Mardani (m) ]
Majid Makuyi (m) ]
Sejjad Radmehr (m) ]
Feraz Zahtab (m), aged 23 ]

Student activist Dariush Hatemi was released in late November, on bail of 50 million rials (approximately US$50,000). He and the other student activists named above are now all free on bail, awaiting trial on charges of “establishing and membership of illegal groups in order to disrupt national security” and “propaganda against the state”. Their trial will begin on 17 January 2009 at the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz.

All but Dariush Hatemi had been released on bail on 28 October. Dariush Hatemi was not released at the time because he had been unable to raise the US$50,000 bail.

Accordingto the Vancouver-based Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ADAPP), the police searched the students’ houses after they had been detained, and confiscated their computers, CDs, documents and books. All the students were detained for three months in Tabriz prison, where they were regularly interrogated by Ministry of Intelligence officials. They were not allowed family visits, though some were occasionally allowed telephone calls.

None of the activists were allowed to choose their legal representation. According to ADAPP, their families have claimed that the students “were tortured during the detention in the Ministry of Intelligence in Tabriz and the authorities subjected them to 24-hour interrogations, sleeplessness, torture and abuses.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Azerbaijani minority in Iran, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, is recognized as the largest minority in Iran and is generally believed to make up 25-30 percent of the population. Members of the Azerbaijani minority live mainly in the north and north-west of the country. 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 in their own language, Azerbaijani Turkic, which they believe is provided for under the Constitution, and the right to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history at cultural events.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, French, English or your own language:
– welcoming the release on bail of Dariush Hatemi;

– calling on the authorities to charge him and seven other student activists with an internationally recognizable criminal offence, and to promptly try them in proceedings meeting fair trial standards under international law or, to drop the charges against them if they have been charged solely for their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

APPEALS TO:
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Avenue, 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

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/

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)
Pastur St, Vali Asr Avenue, 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)
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 26 January 2009.

Further Information on Fear of torture and other ill-treatment/incommunicado detention of Azerbaijani activists

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/171/2008
25 November 2008

Further Information on 269/08 (MDE 13/141/2008, 22 September 2008) and follow-up (MDE 13/158/2008) – Fear of torture and other ill-treatment/incommunicado detention

IRAN

Alireza (Elirza) Serrafi (m), civil engineer, journalist and cultural activist

Hassan (Hesen) Rashidi (m), engineer, writer and lecturer

Sa’id (Seid) Mohammadi (Mehemmedi) Mughanli (m), poet and journalist

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

Iranian Azerbaijani activists Alireza Sarrafi, Hasan Rashidi, Sa’id Mohammadi Mughanli and Mehdi Naimi were released on 8 November on US$250,000 bail each pending trial. Before being released on bail, they were charged with “acting against national security.” No date for their trial has been set.

Alireza Sarrafi, Hasan Rashidi, Sa’id Mohammadi Mughanli and Mehdi Naimi, had been held in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison since their arrest on 10 September. However, towards the end of their detention they were allowed outside for up to 30 minutes daily. During their time in detention they had no access to a lawyer. They were not allowed family visits until 13 October, after which they were permitted visits on an almost weekly basis. The Vancouver-based Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ADAPP) reported that the four had been subject to ill-treatment that included beatings and psychological abuse. Whilst in detention Alireza Sarrafi went on a hunger strike to protest against the way he had been treated, and because officials had also threatened to arrest his wife.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized as the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 per cent of the 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 the right to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history at cultural events.

Many thanks to all who sent appeals. No further action is required at present. Amnesty International will continue to monitor their case and will take further action if necessary.

Further Information on Fear for safety, fear of torture and ill treatment of Azerbaijani students

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/170/08
21 November 2008

Further Information on 271/08 (MDE 13/142/2008, 23 September 2008) Fear for safety/fear of torture or ill treatment / possible prisoners of conscience

IRAN Maqsoud Ahdi (m) ]

Mansour Aminian (m) ]

Dariush Hatemi (m), 29 ]

Aydin Khaje’i (m), 23 ] student activists for the cultural rights of Iranian Azerbaijanis

Amir Mardani (m) ]

Majid Makuyi (m) ]

Sejjad Radmehr (m) ]

Feraz Zahtab (m), 23 ]

All the student activists named above, except for Dariush Hatemi, were released on bail from Tabriz prison in north-western Iran on 28 October. Dariush Hatemi continues to remain in detention because he was unable to raise the bail of US$50,000 required for his release. All the student activists have been charged with “establishing and membership of illegal groups in order to disrupt national security” and “propaganda against the state”.

According to the Vancouver-based Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ADAPP), the police searched the students’ houses after their detention and confiscated their computers, CDs, documents and books. All the students were detained for three months in Tabriz prison, where they were regularly interrogated by Ministry of Intelligence officials. During their detention they were denied family visits although some of the activists were occasionally allowed telephone calls.

None of the activists were allowed their preferred legal representation. According to the ADAPP, family members of the student activists claimed that the students “were tortured during the detention in the Ministry of Intelligence in Tabriz and the authorities subjected them to 24-hour interrogations, sleeplessness, torture and abuses.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized as the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 per cent of the 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 the right to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history at cultural events.

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

– welcoming the release on bail of Maqsoud Ahdi, Mansour Aminian, Aydin Khaje’i, Amir Mardani, Majid Makuyi, Sejjad Radmehr and Feraz Zahtab;

– expressing concern that the charges brought against the seven, as well as against fellow student activist Dariush Hatemi, who remains in detention, relate solely to their peaceful expression of their right to freedom of expression and assembly and urging the authorities, if this is the case, to release Dariush Hatemi immediately and unconditionally and to drop the charges against all eight;

– urging the authorities to ensure that Dariush Hatemi is protected from torture or other ill-treatment;

– call for the authorities to allow Dariush Hatemi immediate and regular access to his family and a lawyer of his choice, and to any medical treatment he may require.

APPEALS TO:
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Avenue, 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

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir via website: http://www.president.ir/email/

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 Avenue, 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)
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 02 January 2009

Further Information on Abbas Lisani

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

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.

Fear of torture or ill treatment / possible prisoners of conscience of Azerbaijani students

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/142/2008
23 September 2008

UA 271/08 Fear for safety / fear of torture or ill treatment / possible prisoners of conscience

IRAN
Maqsoud Ahdi (m) ]
Mansour Aminian (m) ]
Dariush Hatemi (m), 29 ]
Aydin Khaje’i (m), 23 ] student activists for the cultural rights of Iranian Azerbaijanis
Amir Mardani (m) ]
Majid Makuyi (m) ]
Sejjad Radmehr (m) ]
Feraz Zahtab (m), 23 ]

The student activists named above were detained during a series of arrests which began in July 2008. According to the Vancouver-based Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ADAPP), their families have been denied access to them, though some have had irregular contact by telephone. None have had access to legal representation of their choice and Amnesty International fears that they may be prisoners of conscience, arrested solely for the expression of their conscientiously held beliefs.

The student activists have increasingly called for greater cultural and linguistic rights. These include the right to education using the Azerbaijani Turkic language, which they believe is provided for under the Constitution, and the right to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history.

Sejjad Radmehr, a graduate student of mechanical engineering in Tabriz University, along with his friends Feraz Zahtab and Aydin Khaje’i, both law students and members of the Islamic Student Association at the same university, were arrested on 17 July 2008 at the entrance to the university. It is not known where the three students were taken, though each of them has been allowed to make a few short telephone calls to family members. Following their arrest, security officials searched their homes and removed personal items.

Prior to their arrest, Sejjad Radmehr took part in a hunger strike on 11 May, to protest against Tabriz University’s temporary suspension of some other students. As a result of this, he was banned and deprived of his student rights for one month, following a suspension handed down by the university officials. Feraz Zahtab and Aydin Khaje’i also took part in the protest against the bans levelled at students. All three men had previously been banned from the university for one term, following their participation in a demonstration in May 2006.

Dariush Hatemi, a close friend of Sejjad Radmehr, Feraz Zehtab and Aydin Khaje’i, was also arrested on 17 July. He had been carrying out his national service in the army. On 13 August student activist Amir Mardani was arrested at Tabriz University. He has been allowed to make two phone calls to his family, but has not been given direct access to them or to a legal representative. There are fears that he may be facing particularly harsh treatment as he is reported to have refused to “collaborate with security officers”.

Mansour Aminian is a mechanical engineering student, while Maqsoud Ahdi studies geography. Both are also members of Tabriz University’s Islamic Student Association. They were arrested on the morning of 20 August, Mansour Aminian at an office of the Ministry of Intelligence, to which he had been summoned, and Maqsoud Ahdi at home. The residences of both were searched following arrest. Whilst in detention they have been permitted two telephone calls to their families and have appeared before a judge who has extended their period of detention by two months, in contravention of Iranian law.

On 31 August, Majid Makuyi, a final-year shipping engineering student at Malek Ashtar University of Technology in Esfehan, was arrested at his father’s home in Khoy, East Azerbaijan province. His personal effects were examined and seized. According to ADAPP sources, he may have been taken to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Oroumiye. Majid Makuyi has been repeatedly summoned for questioning by the Ministry of Intelligence in both Oroumiye and Khoy over the last two months. He has now been transferred to Tabriz.

Elahe Radmehr, a student at Oroumiye University and sister of Sejjad Radmehr, has been threatened by security officials. Unidentified university officials also told her that she would be banned from the university if she gave any information about her brother’s detention. Other family members of the student activists have been threatened by the Ministry of Intelligence. Sejjad Radmehr’s mother was threatened after she went to Tabriz University to ask about the legal status of her son on 23 August. In an interview with radio Farda, Feraz Zehtab’s mother said: “They don’t give us a correct answer. I asked prison employees, they said they don’t know anything. I asked the Ministry of Intelligence too, but they didn’t give me any answer. I don’t know where my son is being held and I heard his voice only one time.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized as the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 per cent of the 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, French, English or your own language:
– urging the authorities to ensure that the eight Azerbaijani rights activists named above are not facing torture or other ill-treatment;

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

– 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:
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)

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 4 November 2008.

Nine Azerbaijani activists have been held incommunicado

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.

Fear for safety, fear of torture and other ill-treatment, possible prisoners of conscience of Azerbaijani activists

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/078/2008

5 June 2008

UA 158/08 Fear for safety / Fear of torture and other ill-treatment / Possible prisoners of conscience

IRAN
Hasan Asadi, (or Hesen Esedi) (m), aged 30 ]
Ali Sadeqi (or, Eli Sediqi) (m), aged 35 ]
Hojjat Tarverdian (m) aged 40 ]
Akbar Hosseinzadeh (m), aged 34 ]
Ahad Razavi (or, Ehed Rezevi), (m) aged 20 ] Azerbaijani cultural rights activists
Amir Mohammad Bana’i Sadeq (m) ]
And hundreds of others

The men named above are among hundreds of people detained since 16 May. There have recently been widespread demonstrations marking the anniversary of demonstrations against the publication in May 2006 of a cartoon in a state-run newspaper, which was considered offensive to a great many Azerbaijanis. They are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Amir Mohammad Bana’i Sadeq and Ahad Razavi (also spelled as Ehed Rezevi) are said to have been tortured in recent days.

Azerbaijani rights activist Hasan Asadi (as spelled as Hesen Esedi) disappeared several days before 22 May 2008, the anniversary of the demonstrations. Family members are reported to have no information regarding his whereabouts and have been threatened if the authorities were to learn of attempts to bring his case to public attention. Nevertheless, they have decided to seek publicity. Hasan Asadi previously spent several months in detention in 2007, during which time he was tortured.

Ali Sadiqi (also spelled as Eli Sediqi) was arrested by security officials at his place of work in the city of Tabriz around midday on 16 May. Searching his place of work, security officials found leaflets about demonstrations marking the anniversary of the original 2006 demonstrations against the publication of the cartoon. The officials then searched Ali Sadiqi’s house without a warrant, and removed personal items including computer, books, CDs and posters. According to the Canada-based Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP), searches of his house continued until 22 May. On 22 May, Ali Sadiqi’s family discovered that he is being held incommunicado at the Ministry of Intelligence’s Bagh-e Shomal facility in Tabriz. It is not known whether he has been charged with any offence.

Hojjat Tarverdian was arrested at the start of a demonstration held in Tabriz on 21 May. Demonstrators were attacked by security officials and beaten. Officials sprayed an eye irritant into the faces of demonstrators and while many participants fled, Hojjat Tarverdian was taken away. On or around 27 May family members were informed that he is held at the Ministry of Intelligence’s Bagh-e Shomal facility in Tabriz. There are no known charges against him.

Amir Mohammad Bana’i Sadeq, and Ahad Razavi (also spelled as Ehed Rezevi) were arrested at their homes while printing leaflets related to the anniversary of the publication of the cartoon. According to detainees recently released from detention centres under control of the Ministry of Intelligence in Tabriz, Amir Mohammad Bana’i Sadeq and Ahad Razavi have been tortured and are in immediate need of medical treatment. The continual beating of Amir Mohammad Bana’i Sadeq has aggravated an exisiting leg injury. The released detainees claim that he is in severe pain, and that Ministry of Intelligence officials have refused him access to medical treatment.

Akbar Hosseinzadeh was arrested in the evening of 19 May at his shop in Tabriz. Witnesses reported to the ADAPP that four members of the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guard entered the shop, ordered customers out and proceeded to search the premises. They took at least four computers, various CDs, books and papers, arresting Akbar Hosseinzadeh at the same time. Following his arrest, family members attempted to locate him, without success.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are recognized as the largest minority in Iran and are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 percent of the 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. However, these demands have often been suppressed by the Iranian authorities.

In May 2006, widespread demonstrations took place in mainly Azerbaijani north-western towns and cities of Iran in protest at the publication in a state run newspaper of a cartoon offensive to Azerbaijanis. Hundreds, if not thousands, were arrested and scores reportedly killed by the security forces, although official sources downplayed the scale of arrests and killings. On the anniversaries of the 2006 demonstrations, hundreds of Azerbaijanis have taken to the streets to emphasise and assert their cultural identity as Azerbaijanis.

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

– urging the authorities to ensure that Azerbaijani rights activists Ali Sadeqi, Hojjat Tarverdian, Akbar Hosseinzadeh, Ahad Razavi and Amir Mohammad Bana’i Sadeq are not facing torture or ill treatment;

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

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

– calling on the authorities to release them unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial. If held solely on account of their peaceful activities organizing demonstrations or supporting greater cultural rights for Iranian Azerbaijanis, then they should be released immediately and unconditionally.

APPEALS TO:

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

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

COPIES TO:

Parliamentary representatives for Tabriz, Azar Shahr and Oskou

Ali Reza Manadi Safidiyan, Shoukour Akbarnejad and Masoud Pezeshkiyan

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

Fax: +98 21 3355 6408

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 July 2008.

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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