Oct 28, 2016

Southern Azerbaijan: Activist Starts Second Hunger Strike in Prison

Photo courtesy of Payvand

Azerbaijani human rights activist Rasoul Razavi was arrested on 12 November 2015 when protesting a racist Iranian TV show offending the Azerbaijani people. For several years Razavi has been engaging in non-violent civil activities in support of Azerbaijani cultural rights, as well as raising awareness on environmental issues in Iran. On 3 October 2016, he started his second hunger strike in Tabriz Prison to demand a review of his sentence and now he is in very critical conditions. Political prisoners in Iran are often denied proper medical care.

Below an article published by Payvand:

Imprisoned Azeri rights activist Rasoul Razavi has received emergency medical treatment on several occasions since he started a hunger strike in Tabriz Prison on October 3, 2016, an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Iranian Azerbaijanis, also known as Azeris and Turks, are Iranians of Azerbaijani ethnicity who come from East Azerbaijan Province, where Tabriz is the capital city, and speak the Azeri language.

“Rasoul’s condition is deteriorating. He was transferred to the prison clinic several times when his blood pressure dropped. The clinic administered Dexamethasone (steroid) shots, but we don’t know if that’s good for him or not. The prison officials have not paid any attention to Rasoul’s condition,” said the source.

Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of proper medical care.

Razavi, 48, went on hunger strike “because judicial officials did not keep their promise to investigate his case,” said the source. Razavi had previously gone on hunger strike for almost a month, from May 19, 2016 to June 15, to demand conditional release and a review of his sentence.

Razavi is also facing new charges for his latest arrest on November 12, 2015, which took place while he was free on bail awaiting decisions on his appeals. He was arrested at a rally where he was protesting a “racist” show that aired on Iran’s state television that was “offensive to Azeri Turks,” said the source.

Razavi has been arrested on a number of occasions in recent years and accused of “separatism” for engaging in non-violent civil activities in support of Azeri cultural rights and for raising awareness on environmental issues. He is currently serving a one-year prison sentence that he received in January 2015 for “propaganda against the state” and a six-month prison sentence based on the same charge that was issued in late 2015. The Appeals Court upheld both sentences.

He was first arrested and briefly detained on April 10, 2010 during a gathering to protest the lack of government action to save Lake Urmia, a salt lake near Iran’s border with Turkey, from drying up.

In September 2011 he was detained for 16 days and released on bail. In November 2013 he was arrested again and released on bail after four months. On July 19, 2015 he was arrested at a rally in Tabriz while protesting the government’s “silence towards the oppression of Turkish Muslims in China” and released on bail five days later.