Friday, September 19, 2008

19 Azerbaijanis Arbitrarily Arrested

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Rights of Ethnic Minorities Routinely Violated

(17 September 2008) Intelligence Ministry agents arrested 19 prominent members of the Azerbaijani minority at a private Ramadan celebration on the evening of 10 September 2008, and detained them in Evin Prison where nine are still being held without charge, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

“We condemn these arbitrary arrests and detentions, and call upon the authorities to return the citizens to their families,” the Campaign said. “The mistreatment of the Azerbaijani minority in Iran should end.”

According to witnesses, between ten and fifteen plainclothes security agents entered the home of Sayad Muhammadian, who was hosting the Iftar dinner, and began arresting the guests. Among those arrested were three youths attending the dinner with their mother Raqieh Alizadeh, the wife of Abbas Lisani, an Azerbaijani activist imprisoned in exile in Yazd.

Upon arrival in Evin Prison they were separated from their mother. Raqieh was interrogated until 2 AM on 11 September. She was later released from prison with three of her children, along with Akram Najari, Rabab Azimi, and Farhad Rezai. On 14 September, three other prisoners, Yusef Hoshiar, Shabaz Ebrahimzadeh, and Muhammad Abbaspour, were released. No reason has been given for any of the arrests.

Most of those arrested are prominent writers, teachers, and journalists. The nine men currently in detention are: Alireza Sarafi, Hasan Rashdi, Akbar Azad, Saeed Muhammadi, Mahdi Namimi Ardabili, Hasan Rahimibayat, Abbas Naimi, Hasan Haydari and Sayad Muhammadian.

Alireza Sarafi is the author of the book, Ethnic Pluralism and Iranian National Identity, and director of the monthly publication Dilmaj (which until October 2007 was being published in Azerbaijani Turkic and Persian). He is also a contributing writer for the bilingual magazine Varliq, and teacher of Azerbaijani folklore at universities in Tehran. He has conducted seminars on language at Tabriz University and is also one of the founding members of the National Peace Council.

Hasan Rashdi and Akbar Azad are contributing writers for Varliq magazine. Rashdi is a teacher of Azerbaijani Turkic literature, journalist and contributor to various national publications, author of three books on the Azerbaijani Turkic language and Azerbaijani identity. Rashidi and Azad are founders of the Chicheklar Qorulushu Forum that works for the protection of children’s rights. Akbar Azad is also the author of children’s books in Azerbaijani Turkic and contributor to numerous publications.

Saeed Muhammadi is a poet, author, journalist, and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Yashmaq. He is the former editor-in-chief of the publication Paryaq.

Namimi Ardabili is a poet and teacher of Azerbaijani Turkic language at Tehran University. Hasan Rahimibayat is a human rights activist and a member of the Reporters Committee for Human Rights.

Iranian authorities routinely accuse Azerbaijani cultural activists and scholars of acting against national security. Those involved with promoting Azerbaijani culture and its study have routinely been arrested and sometimes imprisoned. According to Mr. Alireza Javanbaksh--spokesperson for the Committee for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ASMAK)-- ten Azerbaijani activists are currently serving prison terms, and ten Azerbaijani university students are awaiting sentencing in Iranian prisons.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for an investigation of the arbitrary arrests on 10 September, and for the observation of cultural and linguistic rights of Azerbaijanis and all minorities in Iran.

“While the government of Iran, as a member of the United Nations, is obligated to protect the rights of its minority citizens to pursue studies in their own language, yet the authorities consider the study of Azerbaijani culture and language as a transgression,” the Campaign stated.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Open Letter from the Families of Currently Imprisoned Tabriz University Students

Families of the Imprisoned Students
By Gozaar

September 7, 2008

To the Chief of Justice Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroodi:The signatories of this letter—being the families of the imprisonedstudents of Azerbaijan—respectfully bring forth our objections to, andcomplaints about, the legal and security departments for wrongfullyarresting our loved ones and subjecting them to mental and physicalpressure.

In July and August, our children were arrested by safety officials andtaken to the National Security Office's temporary prison without anexplanation. There, in individual cells, they were interrogated dayand night and subjected to severe mental and physical pressures.

Our children were robbed of the most basic human rights granted to anaccused person, such as the right to meet with family, the right tosee a lawyer, and even the right to study or get fresh air. Instead,the accused were only allowed brief telephone communication with theirfamily members every two weeks.

Such restrictions have been implemented despite news of the waningphysical and mental condition of our loved ones. This bad news hasdirectly caused stress, and even mental and emotional illness, for thestudents' families.

As the Chief Justice, we request that you issue an order to deal withthe cases of our loved ones. We ask you to declare that the treatmentof our loved ones—appropriate only in the case of serious crimes—is inno way proportionate to the actions of these students. We ask that youmatch the imprisonment procedure with accusations against thestudents—which are not serious enough to warrant the currentpunishment. We would also like you to grant our loved ones permissionto meet with their families and lawyers. Further, we request thatthose who have been hit or injured be transported to a medical centerimmediately.

The family of University of Tabriz law student, Faraz Zahtab
The family of University of Tabriz law student, Aydin Khaje'i
The family of University of Tabriz mechanical engineering graduatestudent, Sajad Radmehr
The family of University of Tabriz mechanical engineering graduatestudent, Mansoor Aminian
The family of University of Tabriz electrical engineering student, Amir Mardani
The family of University of Tabriz geography student, Maghsood Ahdi
The family of former University of Tabriz student and militaryofficer, Daryoosh Hatemi
The family of "Malik Ashtar Isfahan" University student, Majid MakooyizadThe Families of

Currently Imprisoned Tabriz University Students
CC:The Prosecutor of the Public and Revolutionary Courts of Tabriz
The National ProsecutorThe Head of The Supreme Court

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Kamyar and Arash Alaii under torture in 209

Both Kamyar and Arash Alaii were arrested on 23 June 2008 by security forces, and are still in detention after 2 months under going interrogation and torture.

The Alaii brothers have been vanguards in combating Aids in Iran.

According to reports by the Student Committee of the Human Rights Reporters, the two Doctors have been separated in solitary confinement and are undergoing immense pressure. Apparently security officials have managed to compel them to fake confessions suggesting their involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. They have been threatened not to ask for lawyers.

The Islamic Republic had previously charged the Alaii brothers of "acting to overthrow the Islamic Republic", through establishing an NGO, affiliated to the USA.

This has been the case during last year in which civil activists have been targeted with charges such as "acting to overthrow the government", in order to pave the way for security forces to carry out widespread arrests.

Dr.Kamyar Alaii has been a researcher in Harvard University and the founder of triangular clinics, specialist in World Health planning, and an activist in preventing the spread of Aids in Iran.

Before his arrest, in an interview with the Farsi speaking Radio Zamaneh, he had expressed concern over the spread of Aids indicating the rising statistics of those infected by Aids to have reached 100 000 so far. In the same interview he had re iterated that the spread could be contained.

Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is obligated to pertain to the obligations of this Covenant.

These include: refraining from arbitrary arrests and detention, announcing reasons of arrest with no delay, announcing charges under which the victims are detained, allowing the right to defense and to have a legal defense, and also allowing the victim to be present when charges are ruled.

Political activist abducted and under interrogation

Political activist Kourosh Ahmadi, from Karaj city, has been arrested by the Intelligence security forces on 25 August 2008 and is at the moment under interrogation and torture.

According to eye witness accounts and family members, Kourosh was beaten up and abducted near his home by plain clothed agents who appeared to be of the Intelligence Minsitry.

On the other hand some prisoners of Rajaii Shahr have asserted to have seen him in that prison.

According to their reports, Mr.Ahmadi is being held in the security section number 3, which is officially run by the Intelligence section of the RGC (known as the Sepah Pasdaran).

It is also reported that he is prohibited from all contacts with his family and is under intense interrogation and pressure.

Mr.Ahmadi has had a prior arrest in 2004 on charges of propagating against the State.

Defend the Rights of Kurdish Political Prisoners who are on Hunger Strike in Iran

Issued by Sayeh Hassan: On August 25th 2008 a large number of Kurdish political prisoners went on a hunger strike, to protest against the brutal treatment of Kurdish political prisoners, as well as the imposition of heavy sentences including lengthy prison terms and the death sentence.
The Islamic Regime in Iran is well known for its inhumane treatment of political prisoners in general, and ethnic minorities in particular. Most of the Kurdish prisoners have been subjected to severe physical and psychological torture; many of them have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, and some to death.

Many of these prisoners are human rights, civil rights or women’s rights activists and they include teachers, journalists, womens’ rights activists and students. The trials of these individuals have taken place behind closed doors, without a defence lawyer and on numerous occasions without the presence of the accused himself/herself.

Currently there are at least 8 Kurdish political prisoners on death row, the names of these individuals include Adnan Hassanpour, Hiwa Bwtimar, Farzad Kamangar, Anwer Hussein Panahy, Farhad Vakily, Ali Haidarian, Arsalan Awliaiy and Habibullah Latify.

Some of the prisoners sentenced to lengthy prison terms include Ms. Hanna Abdi (5 years imprisonment), Ms. Zaynab Baiazidy (4 years imprisonment), and Ms. Fatima Eftary (18 months imprisonment).

There are also many prisoners who are being held without a charge being laid against them or without a verdict. Some of these prisoners are Kawa Jwanmard, Ysir Guly, Hidayet Gazali, Sabah Nasri, Masoud Kurdpur, Rwnak Safarzade, Kamran Alaiy, Arash Alaiy.

We the undersigned urge The United Nations Secretary General, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, The European Union as well as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to condemn the brutal treatment of political prisoners in Iran, in particular the treatment of ethnic minorities, and to pressure the Islamic Regime to:

1. Release all political prisoners who are being held without a charge, or in the alternative to charge them with internationally recognized crimes.

2. To rescind the death sentences for all political prisoners.

3. To have new trials for political prisoners whose trials took place behind closed doors. These new trials must meet international standards, be held in open court before a jury, with the presence of the accused and his/her defence lawyer.

4. To allow for visitations from independent human rights organizations to monitor the condition and treatment of political prisoners in Iranian prisons.

This is a petition has been created by Sayeh Hassan a human rights activist in Canada and is addressed to Ban Ki-moon Secretary General of the United Nations, Navi Pillay: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, The European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.