Dec 15, 2016

Southern Azerbaijan: Imprisoned Civil Rights Activist Continues Hunger Strike after Losing 20 Kilos in 50 Days

Photo courtesy of @International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Morteza Moradpour – a South Azerbaijani civil rights activist in Iran – already lost 20 kilograms after being on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. Mr Moradpour and other imprisoned activists had gone on hunger strike in October 2016. According to his brother Fardin, Mr Moradpour is suffering from severe kidney pain and his situation is worsening by the day. Mr Moradpour started the hunger strike to protest the unjust imprisonment of him and other activists, demanding their sentences be reviewed. Fardin Moradpour told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that authorities have attempted to break the hunger strike by making living conditions unbearable. Morteza Moradpour and others were arrested for slogans used during a lawful and peaceful protest, during which activists demanded the protection of Lake Urmia and the right to speak Southern Azerbaijani in schools and official contexts.


The article below was published by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

Imprisoned Azeri civil rights activist Morteza Moradpour has lost 44 pounds and is suffering from severe kidney pain 50 days into a hunger strike that he has vowed to continue until he is granted parole, his brother told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“His kidneys are in very bad shape and are getting worse every day,” said Fardin Moradpour. “But he says that he is being held illegally and will not stop his hunger strike.”

Fardin Moradpour added that his brother is eligible for parole according to Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which allows for only the longest prison sentence to be served in cases involving multiple convictions.

Fardin Moradpour also told the Campaign that prison authorities have been trying to force his brother to end his hunger strike by making his living conditions unbearable.

“In order to put him under pressure to break his hunger strike, on November 3 the authorities moved him and another (Azeri) civil rights activist, Rasoul Razavi, to the Karaj Penitentiary,” he said. “They were held in Ward 12 with other prisoners who had been exiled from their hometowns in cells that are four meters wide with no access to water. They were also denied salt, sugar and heating facilities. After about 35 days, he and Razavi were brought back to Tabriz Central Prison (in Northwestern Iran).”

Moradpour continued: “All my brother’s activities were within the law. But he has been charged and imprisoned based on false accusations. Now all he wants is the fair application of the law. He’s not asking for too much.”

Morteza Moradpour was sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the state” and two years for “assembly and collusion against national security” in November 2009. To date he has spent more than two years in prison.

“During a lawful rally by many people in the Shahgoli district of Tabriz (city) on May 22, 2009, Morteza and several other Azeri civil rights activists were arrested by the security forces for shouting slogans in favor of Azeri ethnic demands. Slogans such as protecting the Urmia (Oroumiyeh) Lake, the right to speak the Azeri mother tongue, and supporting the local Tractor Sazi soccer team,” Fardin Moradpour told the Campaign

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

“On November 10, 2009, the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to three years in prison for the false charges of ‘propaganda against the state’ and two years for ‘assembly and collusion against national security,’” added Fardin Moradpour. “Morteza was freed on bail, but in May 2015 he was arrested at his job and taken back to Tabriz Central Prison.”