The systematic violations of Azerbaijanis human rights continued throughout May 2010. Azerbaijani activists were subjected to arbitrary detentions and were deprived of fundamental rights. Psychological pressure on student activists and organizations and the Ahl-i Haq religious minority prisoners was increased within the month. Moreover, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting authorities banned local TV broadcasts of children’s cartoons in Azerbaijani Turkish. Environmental disasters, which took place in Bonab and Maraghe, were neglected by the authorities.      

Azerbaijani activists detained at the anniversary of offensive cartoon demonstrations

Azerbaijani ethnic and cultural rights activists were arrested at the fourth anniversary of demonstrations of a cartoon humiliating Azerbaijanis in state-run “Iran” newspaper. At least 31 activists were detained in Tabriz, Urmia, Ardebil, Rasht, Meshkinshahr (Khiyav), Germi, Moghan, Naghadeh (Sulduz), Sofiyan, Miyandob (Qosacay), Maku, Hamadan, Tehran, and Karaj.

Akbar Azad (m), Alireza Abdollahi (m), Latif Hasani (m), Mostafa Jamshidi (m), Hafez Sardarpur (m), Shahram Radmehr (m), Hamide Farajzade (f), Mahnaz Karimi (f), Abbas Lisani (m), Asger Akbarzade (m), Ramin Jabbari (m), Ayat Mehrali beyglu (m), Nader Azizi (m), Mehdi Zeynali (m), Mohammad Farajiyan (m), Siyamak Mirzayi (m), Aydin Khajeyi (m), Reza Abdi (m), Alireza Hosseinzade (m), Masud Hosseinzade (m), Hadi Akbari (m), Alireza Leshkari (m), Vali Azeriyun (m), Karim Fathipur (m), Sattar Barazesh (m), Bahman Nasirzade (m), Ahmad Aghayi (m), Behbud Gholizade (m), Daryush Andalibiyan (m), Babak Aksun (m), Sajjad Azizi (m), and Yusef Sudbar (m) are believed to have been arrested. Many are well known members of popular NGOs, women rights activists, student activists, editors of some student journals as well as writers. Some of the detainees were released after days of detention and interrogation, but others are still held in police custody. Most of the detainees are believed to be held in intelligence offices. The activists are not allowed access to a lawyer and visits from their families.

 Akbar Azad, an Azerbaijani writer and journalist, was arrested at his home in Tehran on May 25, 2010, and taken in to Tabriz intelligence office custody. After his arrest, security forces searched his home and confiscated his computer, books and other pieces personal properties.

Akbar Azad is a member of founding board of “Language and Culture Association”  (Dil ve Madaniyet Ocagi) and a contributing wirter to “Varliq” and “Yarpaq” journals. He was detained and sentenced to prison several times in recent years as a result of his activism.

Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders issued several statements condemning his arrest and called for his release.

Alireza Abdollahi, a cultural activist and founding member of the “Bilim Yolu” NGO, was arrested on May 22, 2010 in Urmia by security forces and was transferred to the custody of the Tabriz intelligence office. His house was searched and some of his personal property, including his books, was confiscated. The authorities refuse to address questions asked by his family regarding his arrest.

Latif Hasani, a doctor of International Law and a lecturer in universities and high schools in Karaj, was arrested on May 24, 2010, and was transferred to the Tabriz intelligence office. His house was searched by security forces and some of his personal property, including his computer and books, were taken. The authorities refuse to comment on the cause of his arrest.

Azerbaijani women’s rights activist Hamide Farajzade was arrested in her house on May 25, 2010. Her CDs, books and personal writings were confiscated by security forces when the detention took place. The forces informed her family that she will be transferred to Tabriz intelligence office for interrogation.

Azerbaijani journalists Mostafa Jamshidi, and Ramin Jabbari; Azerbaijani cultural activists Hafez Sardarpur, Nader Azizi, Mehdi Zeynali and Mehnaz Karimi; and Azerbaijani teachers Alireza Lashkari, and Mohammad Farajiyan in Meshkinsahar and Germi schools were arrested on days between May 17-19, 2010.  Jabbari, Sardarpur, Azizi, Zeynali, and Lashkari were released after eleven days of detention on bail of 150 million Rials ($15,000) to be tried later. Jamshidi, Farajiyan and Karimi were released just one day after detention. They all were detained for the charges of “movement against the national security” and calling people to participate in demonstrations of fourth anniversary of offensive cartoon protests.

The activists were beaten when they were arrested. The security forces have not shown any warrant when arresting the activists. The detainees were not allowed to access a lawyer and visit their family during the detentions.

Abbas Lisani, a prominent Azerbaijani activist, and Asger Akbarzade, an Azerbaijani cultural activist, were arrested on May 25, 2010. They were going to participate in a ceremony for people killed in protests of cartoon in Naghade (Sulduz) in 2006. They were arrested in bus going to Sulduz from Ardebil and were released just after ceremony was finished.

Shahram Radmehr, an Azerbaijani activist was arrested in his father’s shop on May 24, 2010 in Meshkinshahr and was transferred to Tabriz intelligence office custody to be interrogated. The security forces have searched his house and took some of his personal belongings, including his computer and books.

 Aydin Khajeyi, an Azerbaijani student activist and a student of Law in Tabriz University, was arrested on May 19, 2010 by security forces. He was detained and charged with violating national security for his membership in Azerbaijani rights organization GAMOH. He has been denied access to a lawyer and visits from his family.

Prior to the arrest, Khajeyi was detained for moderating the Azerbaijan Student Movement (AZOH) website. He was later tried and sentenced to one year of imprisonment and two years of parole. He was released from Tabriz Prison after serving his one year jail term on November 10, 2009

Ahmad Aghayi, theformer director of Cultural Association of Turkish Students in Hamadan Buali Sina University and also the former director-in-chief of “Ildirim” student journal, was arrested on May 21, 2010 by security forces following the protests of Azerbaijani students in the university. He was arrested in his home and thus briefly called his family to inform them about his detention. Judiciary authorities deny giving information about the reason and locationof his arrest.

Bahman Nasirzade, an Azerbaijani poet and teacher in Maku, was arrested on May 22, 2010 in his home. Security forces arrested him without a warrant. His house was searched and his CDs, books, poems, handwritings, and camera were confiscated by security forces. The cultural activist called his family on May 25, informing them that he is in a cell in Maku. The judiciary authorities claimed that he had been detained for activities against the regime.

Security forces arrested Alireza Hosseinzade in his shop in Tabriz on May 11, 2010 along with Reza Abdi. Their houses were searched by forces and their computer and CDs were confiscated.

Vali Azeriyun and Karim Fathipur, the relatives of activist killed in the May 2006 Protests in Naghade (Sulduz) were arrested on May 21, 2010 by security forces and were released after four days of detention. Tohid Azeriyun, Hemmat Esmzade, Hossein Fathipur, and Asger Ghasemi were Azerbaijanis who were killed in May 2006 during the protest. The security forces detained the family members of killed activists and threatened them to not organize any ceremony on the anniversary of their children’s deaths.

Behbud Gholizade, an Azerbaijani Activist the director of the shut-down “Yashil Azerbaycan” (Green Azerbaijan) NGO, was arrested in his photography shop in Miyandoab (Qosacay) on May 21, 2010 and was transferred in to Tabriz intelligence office custody. His computer, CDs, and some other personal properties were taken by security forces. They refused to comment on the reason for his detention.

He had been previously summoned to court for using Turkish names and symbols in his shop and promoting cultural activities such giving Azerbaijani dance lessons in the Yashil Azerbaycan NGO. He was later released on bail.

Daryush Andalibiyan, Sattar Barazesh, Ysef Sudbar, Sajjad Azizi, and Babek Aksun Azerbaijani activists from Miyandoab were called to the court on May 18, 2010 and were released on bail of 150 million Rials ($15,000) to be tried later. They were called after taking place of an Azerbaijani music and dance ceremony in Miyandoab on April 2, in Environment Day.

Ayat Mehrali Beyglu, former Azerbaijani activist, was arrested in his house in Sofiyan and was transferred to Tabriz intelligence office to be interrogated. The security forces took his computer, books and other personal belongings upon his arrest. He is denied access to a lawyer and visits from his family.

Hossein Mohammadi Alvar, a fan and supporter Tractor Football Club, was arrested in his home on May 4, 2010. He was later released on June 1 after 29 days of arbitrary detention. Security forces arrested him in his home without a warrant. His home was searched by forces following his detention and all of his books were confiscated.

Tractor FC’s football matches have been used for Azerbaijani youth protests in favor of ethnic and national rights. Supporters chant slogans in Azerbaijani Turkish and demand rights such as language instruction in their mother tongues.

Long-term arbitrary detention

Hasan Nasiri, an Azerbaijani activist who was arrested on April 2, 2010 by security forces is still held in prison after two months of temporary detention. The activist was arrested on Environmental Day, when Azerbaijani activist gathered around Lake Urmia to protest the environmental policies of the Iranian government, resulting results in the drying of lakes, rivers, etc.  According to Nasiri’s family, the authorities have refused to comment on the cause of his arrest.

During the protest around Lake Urmia, more than one hundred protesters were detained. Protesters lashed out against environmental disasters that are propagated and neglected by the Iranian government by symbolically pouring fresh water into the lake. Most of the detainees were released on bail after a few days of detention.

Reza Mehrabi Kalajahi, and Hossein Latifi have been held in custody for over five months.  They were arrested after writing “long live Azerbaijan” slogans on the walls of their village. They will be sent to Tabriz court to be tried.

Azerbaijani activists sentenced to prison

Ayat Mohammadjafari, an Azerbaijani cultural rights activist, was tired on May 22, 2010 and was sentenced to 91 days in prison. The trial took place even though the activist’s lawyer was not present and he was thus not given a chance to defend himself. He was sent to Ahar Prison to serve his jail term. He was sent to prison without a chance to appeal the ruling, despite the fact that Iranian law allows for detainees to appeal the verdict 20 days after it is issued.

Mohammadjafari was arrested in a gathering in Babek Castel (Babek is a national hero of Azerbaijanis). He was released after 10 days of detention. He was charged with participating in gathering in order to violate public order.

Babek Castel is located in Northwest Iran and is the former castle of the Azerbaijani hero Babek, who defended his people for years against the foreign attacks. Azerbaijanis gather at the castle every year and celebrate his day of birth by holding cultural ceremonies. In the recent years, the Iranian government has prevented people from such ceremonies. The government closes off access routes to the castle one week before the ceremonies.


Yunes Aghayan is under pressure in Prison

Yunes Aghayan, an Azerbaijani prisoner of the Ahl-i Haq faith, is under unbearable pressure by prison authorities. He started a hunger strike on May 4, 2010 objecting the insults and oppression to which he is subjected. He ended the hunger strike on May 22.

He was publicly subjected to insults by the chief prison guard. When Aghayan objected the behavior of the prison authority, he was beaten by other guards and then transferred to a criminal ward reserved for those that are charged with murder or trafficking. He was sent back to his former ward following his hunger strike.

Iran’s Constitution guarantees rights for religious minorities, but the articles are not applied to members of the Ahl-i Haq and Baha’i communities. The Iranian government prevents them from religious ceremonies. They are detained arbitrarily, oppressed and in most cases, deprived of even their most fundamental rights in prisons.

Iran banned broadcasting programs in Azerbaijani Turkish

Local provincial radio and TVs that were established just in recent years in order to maintain the ethnic cultures in the ethnic regions have been a place to accelerate the assimilation of non-Persian ethnics. The language of programs broadcasted in the provincial radio and TVs are far from the Azerbaijani Turkish that people speak or know as Azerbaijani Turkish. However, recently Iranian authorities have limited broadcasting programs in Azerbaijani Turkish especially for children and teenagers in Turkish provinces.

Zanjan Province chief director Razmju, in a press conference, said “We are not allowed to broadcast programs for children and teenagers if more than 50% of the programs are in Turkish.”

The prevention of broadcasting in Azerbaijani Turkish programs is unconstitutional against ethnic minorities, who have a constitutional right to learn their mother language in schools, and have press and media in their mother tongues. Some of the rights given in recent years also are taken away and Iranian authorities bar ethnic minorities from establishing private TV and radio channels. 

Azerbaijani student organizations are under pressure

Security forces stopped ten members of Arman Student Organization in a park in Tabriz, questioning them and taking their photos on May 21, 2010. Two of the students were detained and interrogated for some hours in the intelligence office and then released. They were called to be present in an inquiry on May 24 in the intelligence office.

The director of Arman organization and a student of Tabriz Azad University, Ghader Noruzi, was called to court on Jun 24, 2010. He was accused of propaganda against regime and also being a follower of Azerbaijan Democrat party. The inquiry is based on the publication of a special edition of a journal on International Women’s Day discussing the role of women in Azerbaijani social movements.

Security forces banned the publication of a journal belonging to Arman organization in February. Following the event, Fateme Nasirpur, a member of Arman, was detained and Ghader Noruzi was called to intelligence office for further investigation. Noruzi was released on April 27 on bail to be tried later.

Azerbaijani students are suspended from education programs

Mehdi Hamidi Shafigh, a student of sociology in Tabriz University, was suspended from the university for one semester and will also be prevented from using university facilities permanently by a verdict which is issued on May 2, 2010.  He is charged with distributing articles on International Mother Tongue Day and also asking a question in a meeting in Student Day in Iran that did not sit well with authorities.

Hajar Kabiri, an Azerbaijani women rights activist, Sima Didar, and Majid Makuyizad Azerbaijani cultural activists were prevented from graduate studies just after the results for graduate studies exams were released. They were not given their degree and told to go to the exam center for further information.

Kabiri is graduated from sociology from Tabriz University and was former director-in-chief of “Talangor” student journal, and Didar was editor-in-chief of “Yasmaq” student journal in Tehran University. Makuyizad is graduated from Malek Ashtar University of Esfahan.

The student activists are marked by university authorities in Iran and are prevented from graduate studies.

Iran government neglect of environmental problems

Iran’s government neglects problems related to environment and issue contracts to factories that produce excessive waste.







Following a raining season in Maraghe and Bonab, an industrial waste pool in a factory which produces Sodium Carbonate ruptured and waste-water from the factory flooded into villagers’ farms and houses. There have also been reports of workers dying in factories due to the unsanitary conditions.

According to experts, it is likely that crops will not be able to be harvested in the region for over 15 years. Industrial wastes have been leaked to underground water sources and poisoned the water source of villagers.

Villagers as well as residents of the cities of Maraghe and Bonab have objected to the factories anti-environmental activities but Iranian government has sided with the factory, which belongs to members of Iran Revolutionary Guard.