Detentions of Azerbaijani ethnic
and human rights activists continue in Iran. Activists are arbitrarily detained
without being tried or even told the reason for their detention. They are
usually denied access to a lawyer and are generally tortured or subjected to
other ill-treatment. Religious minorities in Iran are also discriminated against.
Azerbaijani scholar detained for over two months
Javan, an architect and lecturer at Tehran’s University of Shahid Rajai, is
still being held in section 209 of Evin Prison, controlled by the Iran
Intelligence Service. He was arrested on November 13, 2008 while
participating in the Settar Khan celebration (Settar Khan is a national hero
for Azerbaijani Iranians who lead the constitutional movements of 1906-14). He has
not been allowed access to a lawyer or his family, who have not been told the
reason for his detention. Abdullah’s brother, Yedollah Abbasi Javan, told to
Radio Free Europe: “Abdullah has been arrested because of participating in a
ceremony which took place on Sattar Khan’s grave for his Remembrance Day and is
held incommunicado for more than two months.” He
argued that “Is it a crime to demand the right to learn your mother tongue in
schools?” Yedollah added that he believes that his brother is not healthy and
is being tortured.
Abdullah was also
detained for 130 days beginning on August 18, 2007 in section 209 of Evin Prison.
During the detention he was subjected to psychological and physical torture. He
was later sentenced to a year of suspended imprisonment, which was postponed for
Azerbaijani activists released on bail
(Hossein Hosseini), the former president of the student union at the University
of Razi, Ardebil, who was arrested on November 13, 2008 while participating in the
anniversary of Settar Khan Celebrations, was released on bail of 500 million
rials ($50,000) on January
20, 2009. The date of his trial and the charges against him has not
Huseyin is the
nephew of Abdullah Abassi Javan, who was held incommunicado for 68 days in detention.
He says he was tortured and put under severe psychological and physical strain
by security forces. He had already been held for three weeks in June 2008 in
Naghadeh (Sulduz) Intelligence Service custody, where he was interrogated and
tortured. He was later released on bail of 100 million rials ($10,000).
SheykhBaghlu, a graduate student in economics at Azad University in Tabriz and
a former member of Arman student organization, was arrested on December 24, 2008
and is still being held in Tabriz Prison. During his time in detention he has
been summoned twice to be present at trial, but his family has not been told the
reason for his detention. The judge has told his family that his file is not
yet complete and the case against him is still being investigated. His last
trial, on January
28, 2009, was not public and his lawyer was not there.
journalist and women’s rights defender Shanaz Gholami has been released on bail of 200 million
rials ($20,000) on January
17, 2009, after 69 days in detention. The date of
her trial has not been released. According to her lawyer, she will be charged
with “provocation of public opinion” and “sending news to media connected to
People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.”
is the moderator of a blog for Azerbaijani-Iranian women, azarwomen, and is
also a member of Iran Women Journalists Association. She was arrested on November 9, 2008
and went on an eight-day hunger strike to object to the detention. Gholami was
sentenced to six months’ imprisonment last September after being convicted of
distributing “propaganda against the regime.” She was also in prison for five
years from 1989 to 1994 as a result of her political activities.
ethnic rights activist Hasan Asadi was arrested on January 20, 2009 by Tabriz
Intelligence Service forces and transferred to Tabriz prison. No information has been
released about the reason for his detention.
was previously arrested in May 2008, the second anniversary of Azerbaijani
demonstrations against a cartoon comparing Azerbaijanis to cockroaches
published in state-run newspaper Iran,
which Azerbaijanis found offensive. He was not allowed to visit his family and
denied access to a lawyer. Local human rights activists say he was tortured and
badly treated during the detention. He was transferred to hospital as his
health deteriorated as a result of torture. His nails were pulled out and some
of his fingers were broken. He also went into a coma several times during the
interrogations. He was released on bail after 33 days in detention.
to this, Asadi was detained for four months starting on February 8, 2007 in Ardebil
Intelligence Service custody and Tabriz prison
because he participated in a demonstration against the jail sentence for Abbas
Lisani (a prominent Azerbaijani ethnic rights activist) in front of Ardebil prison. He was
later released on bail of 700 million rials ($70,000) and charged with
“membership in separatist parties”.
was also charged with membership in GAIP (South Azerbaijan Independents Party)
and on January
29, 2008 was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. The sentence was
later reduced on appeal to six months. He was released on December 17, 2008 after serving
his six-month sentence.
Azerbaijani student activists tried
The trial of eight
Azerbaijani student activists took place on January 17, 2009 in Tabriz
Revolutionary Court. These activists, including Maghsud Ahdi, Mansur Imanian,
Aydin khajeyi, Amir Mardani, Faraz Zehtab, Sejjad Radmehr from Tabriz
University along with Majid Makuyi from Esfahan’s Malek Eshter University and
Driush Hatemi, who is completing his military service in Iranian army, were
charged with “establishing or membership in illegal organizations in order to
organize activities against national security” and also “propaganda against the
regime.” The trial was not public.
The students were
arrested just after start of the university summer holidays and were detained
for three months in Tabriz Intelligence Service custody. They were tortured,
denied access to a lawyer and were not allowed to visit with their families.
The detainees were finally released on bail of 200 or 500 million rials
($20,000 and $50,000 respectively) and are to be tried later.
The first stage of
the trial of Hamid Valayi, an Azerbaijani writer and human rights activist,
took place on January
28, 2009 in Tabriz
Revolutionary Court. According to his lawyer, he
was charged with “propaganda against the regime.” Valayi’s trial was supposed
to take place on December
1, 2008, but it was postponed by the trial judge, even though
Valayi and his advocate were present at the appointed time. Valayi was arrested
on July 15, 2008
and was tortured in custody. His teeth were broken and his right leg and head
The trial of
Azerbaijani student and cultural
activists Behruz Alizade, Vadud Saadeti, Rahim Gholami,
Huseyin Huseyni, and Ardashir Karimi Khiyavi took place on January 29, 2009 in Ardebil.
According to their advocate, they are charged with “propaganda of ethnicity.”
All five activists
were arrested on April
8, 2008 by Ardebil Intelligence Service forces and were detained
for 20 days. They were released on bail of 300 million rials ($30,000) and are
to be tried later. They were denied access to a lawyer, not allowed to visit
their families and subjected to torture and other ill-treatments.
Bloody event of Sunni village
of Qizil Khanaya, Urmia
On January 14, 2009,
Iranian police forces attacked the farmers of Qizil
(Khaneghah-e Sorkh), Urmia, in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran.
Hundreds of farmers of the Qizil Khanaya had gathered to prevent the
redirection of the village’s underground water supplies for industrial
consumption. In Urmia-Salmas road, dozens of police attacked farmers using tear
gas and firing on unarmed demonstrators. Police also damaged the farmers’
vehicles, which were parked in the village, confiscating their registration
More than 30
people were arrested including Barzad Nizami Afshar, Mighdad Nizami Afshar,
Said Jafarpur, Muhammad Samadzada, Bahram Quluzada, Nadali Quluzada, Nadali
Alipur, Meraj Alipur, Heydar Alipur, Suleyman Ibrahimzada, Nasir Quluzada,
Akbar Rustami, Iskandar Aslani, Allahverdi Aslani, Faramaz Jafari, Muahammad
Jafari, Naqi-A and Davud-Sh.
Some of the
detainees were wounded. They were transferred to Imam Khomeini
Hospital, Urmia after
just five hours. The detainees were interrogated and tortured before being
released over 10 days. They are to be tried in Nushin Shahr Court and will be charged
with “rebellion against the government” and “contempt of court order.”
village (pop. 2,000) is located 30 kilometres north of Urmia city and the
people are mainly Sunni Muslims. Sunni Azerbaijanis, who are called “Sunni
Turks” or “Kuresunni,” by other Azerbaijanis in Iran,
mainly live in Ardabil province as well as the West
Azerbaijan province. Sunni Azerbaijanis in Iran are
subjected to both ethnic and religious discrimination.
estimate that more than 400,000 Sunni Turks live in four cities of West Azerbaijan province near the Turkish border: Urmia, Khoy, Salmas and Piranshahr
(Khana). Because of persecution and insecurity, hundreds of
thousands of Sunni Turk inhabitants of the West Azerbaijan immigrated to Turkey both before and after 1979 Islamic
Revolution in Iran.
Sunnis are restricted in their access to higher education and state jobs. They
are not allowed to establish associations, non-governmental organizations or
set up religious schools.
According to the
residents of some Sunni Azerbaijani villages, the officials of the Islamic
Republic of Iran try to redirect underground water supplies away from their
villages to cause water shortages on their farms.
More student journals shut down
Khalaj student journal published
in the Azerbaijani Turkish and Persian languages in Yazd University
was closed down, the latest in a series of similar incidents. The reasons given
were that articles in the journal promoted ethnic propaganda and Pan-Turkism.
student journals have been closed down by the government over the last year.
Some of them include: Bulud, Ulus, Nasim, Araz, Ozluk, Oyanish, Sattar Khan,
Kimlik, Yoldash, Yagish, Aydin Gelecel, Gunesh, Yarpaq, Telenger, Yashil, Yol,
Anayurdu, Achiq Soz and Sayan.