Oct 19, 2015

Southern Azerbaijan: August & September AHRAZ Report on Human Rights Situation

The Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran has released its monthly report on the human rights situation of Azerbaijani Turks in Iran.  Among other updates, AHRAZ reports that Mr Shahrokh Zamani, a well-known labour activist, was found dead in his prison cell. Official sources claim that he died due to a stroke, but others, including the activist’s family, find his death suspicious, as he was relatively young and in good health. Other activists, such as Abbas Lesani and Esmail Barzegar, are on hunger strike while some face violations of their procedural rights. 


Below is the report in full and attached:

August & September 2015

Report on the situation of Iranian Azerbaijanis regarding human rights:

On 13 September 2015 Shahrokh Zamani, 52-year-old political prisoner was found lying dead on the bed in his cell, according to his same ward prisoners his corpse was found with bruises on his body and blood coming out of his mouth. Iran Human Rights, Monday September 14 2015: Close sources in Iran have confirmed the sudden and suspicious death of Shahrokh Zamani, an imprisoned house painter and union activist. According to the reports the prison's doctor declared the cause of his death to be a stroke. Mr Zamani was arrested in 2011 for attempting to form a labour union. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison exile by Iran's Revolutionary Court. During Shahrokh Zamani's imprisonment, Iranian authorities deprived him of his right to temporary prison leave (furlough) to attend his daughter's wedding or his mother's funeral. According his father statement, Mr Shahrokh Zamani was completely healthy person. Close sources suggest that the union activist's death is suspicious and must be investigated.

An Azerbaijani Turk civil right activist from Ardabil city ended his hunger strike after 12 days and was transferred to the general ward. This civil activist’s wife, in an interview with HRANA, confirmed the news and said that, after she had a meeting with him and the head of Ardabil prison promised not to exile him, Mr. Lesani was convinced to end his hunger strike. Roqieh Alizadeh, Abbas Lesani’s wife, also said about her husband’s physical condition, “He has extremely lost his weight and his physical condition is not good, and during this time, in addition to the hunger strike, he was held in difficult conditions and by informing him about his friends’ and our concerns, I asked him to end his hunger strike.” According to Mrs. Alizadeh, her husband had gone on hunger strike to protest against the harassment in prison, and threats of exile. Abbas Lesani was arrested on Wednesday morning 22nd July, when he was going to his work place, and was transferred to Ardebil prison to serve his sentence. His wife had earlier said that he required continuous medical care due to a herniated disc and it was feared that the imprisonment and lack of access to essential care, would exacerbate his problems.

The Branch 1 of the Ardebil Appeal Court rejected the defense of Abbas Lisani in June, and also rejected the prosecutor’s request to exile Mr. Lisani, and just upheld his sentence of one-year-imprisonment. This civil activist, who had refused to participate in any of the 3 trials, because of the court’s failure in respecting Article 168 of the constitution of the notion of public hearings, was sentenced to one year imprisonment on 25th April by a court verdict, issued by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Ardebil, presided by Judge Asadpour. Abbas Lisani, civil activist and father of three children, who had been arrested and imprisoned numerously, the last time, was arrested in Ardebil, on 9th September, following the protests against drying of the lake of Ormia. He was charged with propaganda against the regime and forming a group to disrupt the security national. He was released on 5th November, after 55 days of detention in Ardebil Intelligence service’s detention, on the bail of IRR 1 billion. Source: HRANA https://hra-news.org/en/abbas-lesani-ended-hunger-strike-12-days

Iranian judiciary authorities rejected Mr Ayat Mehr-Alibeyglu’s request of parole after he past a third of his imprisonment sentence. Mr Mehr-Alibeyglu Azerbaijani Turk civil right activist sentenced to 9-year imprisonment, which was reduced to 8 years after review. He has been deprived of prisoner’s rights since he has been arrested. The authorities allowed him to prison leave (furlough) only one time within the past three years. It needs to be mentioned that each of the five members of the Board of Directors of Yeni GAMOH Party, namely Mahmoud Fazli, Ayat Mehrali Baglou, Behboud Gholizade, and Shahram Radmehr and Latif Hasni were sentenced to 9 years in prison on 16 Feb 2013, on the accusations of establishment of an unauthorized group and propaganda against regime. Note: Amnesty International has issued an urgent action declaration regarding Behboud Gholizadeh and his four fellow member of YENI GAMOH (NGO) on 12 June 2013.

Mr. Barzegar an Azerbaijani Turk musician launched hunger strike since 09 September 2015 to protest against the prisons and other relevant authorities negligent regarding his release. He is in section 7 of Evin prison Tehran. According to the reports the Court of Appeal acquitted Mr Barzegar for not being espionage. Thus his former sentence, which was seven years in prison reduced to two and a half years.

However Mr. Barzegar has already spent more than four years imprisonment and he must be released by now. On 05 October 2011 Mr Barzegar was arrested by Iranian security forces when he came back to Iran form Baku / Azerbaijan after he performed music in there. His accusations were contacting with foreigner’s intelligence services (Azerbaijan) and conspiring and acting against national security. He was sentenced for seven and half a year imprisonment by judge Piarabbasi at branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

On 26 August 2015 a 22 years old an Azerbaijani Turk civil right activist arrested at Urmia city, West Azerbaijan province and transferred to prison spend his 1 month imprisonment. On December 2014 Mr Hassani had been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment by Revolutionary court of Urmia city on charge of Propaganda against the regime for the benefit of the separatist groups. This sentence were overturned to 1 month imprisonment by of the Appeals court Branch 10, West Azerbaijan Province. Mr Nima Hassani has been arrested several times alongside with other Azerbaijani Turk activists, in one occasion he arrested when they while he was protesting against Iranian government negligent to Urmia lake dry out.

Yunes Aghayan, an Iranian Azerbaijani from the Alevi (Ahl-e Haqq) faith of Islam, was sentence for life sentence. It needs to be mention that Mr Aghayan had been already sentenced to execution. Yunes Aghayan and four others were arrested in 2004. In January 2005, Yunes Aghayan and Mehdi Qasemzadeh were sentenced to death by branch 2 of the Mahabad Revolutionary Court. They were charged with "Moharebeh" (waging war against God). The Supreme Court upheld their death sentences in April 2005. According to an urgent action appeal published by Amnesty International in April 2009, Yunes Aghayan was arrested 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. The three other prisoners Mr Sahand Ali Mohammadi, Mr Bakhshali Mohammadi, and Mr Ebadollah Qasemzadeh were also sentenced to death but their sentences were overturned by the Supreme Court in September 2007. The three men are currently serving 13-year prison sentences in exile in the Yazd province (central Iran). The other prisoner Mehdi Qasemzadeh was executed in February 2009.

An Azerbaijani Turk civil right activist from Ardabil city sentenced for 6 months imprisonment by branch 101 Criminal Court of Astara city on charge of destruction of state property. On 14 July 2015 Mr Rostamirad arrested by Astara city border intelligence forces for a few hours and later was released from Astara prison. On February 2014, branch 104 of public and criminal court sentenced Mr Rostamirad to 3 months and one day imprisonment and to 30 lashes. He was arrested on 26 February 2013 alongside with 18 other Azerbaijani Tractor Football Club fans. Their accusations were “disturbing public order at Yadegar Eman stadium. The court was suspended Mr Rostamirad’s sentence for 2 years. In the summer of 2014 Mr Rostamirad was arrested along with several other Azerbaijani Turk activists for taking part in the annual ceremony of Savalan. He then was released on bail after a few days.

On 23 August 2015, four Azerbaijani Turk civil right activists detained by Iranian security forces in Khoy city, West Azerbaijan. Three of this detainees namely; Sina Iraji, Hamed Eyvezlu and Hssein Hajhossinlu were released after being noticed regarding their accusation. Mr Rasoul Iraji still is in detention and his whereabouts is unknown. Their arrest reason may related to written graffiti slogans on Khoy city walls regarding mother language education right on first day of Iranian schools. As they are demanding to study in Turkish language, which is not allowed in Iranian education system. Their accusation, which is “Propaganda against regime” informed by Khoy city court vice president. According to relatives of the activists they have been severely beaten by security forces during their detention. Source: Oyan News http://goo.gl/sT0Zo7

A well-known Azerbaijani Turk civil right activist and prisoners of concise from Zanjan City was released after he finished his imprisonment. Mr Matinpour has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on charges of espionage and alleged contact with foreigner’s intelligent services and propagating against the regime. Despite international organisations request and issued several urgent actions such as Amnesty international, Iranian authority even did not release him for short while for medical treatment.

On 21 August 2015 an Azerbaijani Turk prisoner of conscience was released conditionally after 2 years and 8 months imprisonment. It needs to be mentioned that Mr Fazli along with other four members of the Board of Directors of Yeni GAMOH Party were sentenced to 9 years in prison on 16 Feb 2013, on the accusations of establishment of an unauthorized group and propaganda against regime.

On 10 August 2015 Mr Shokrollah Ghahramani the Azerbaijani Turk civil right activist was released after serving his sentence from Tabriz Central Prison. He was held in section 3 of the Tabriz Central Prison. On 24 June 2015 Mr Ghahramani was arrested by Iranian Security forces at his home in Khodafarin city and transferd to Ahar Prison in order to spent his previous sentences, as Mr Ghahramni was sentenced for 6 months imprisonment in Tabriz revolutionary court on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and banned to teach for 3 months without pays and benefits. Source: Haraz News www.hraznews.com

Mr. Seyfi was found not guilty from the branch 10 of the West Azerbaijan Province Appeals Court. He had been arrested on 03 January 2015 by Iranian by the security forces and after a few hours investigation he was released on bail, then he was sentenced to 6 month in prison on the accusation of “propaganda against regime” by the Branch 102 of Miandoab City’s Public Court / east Azerbaijan province. The reason for his arrest is mentioned by Faramarz Abdi, the head of this court, to be ownership of unauthorized books, flyers, invitation letters to ethno-centric groups and elements as well as statements and implicit confessions made by the accused during the primary phases of proceedings.