AI Index: MDE 13/108/2007                    
                                                                                                                                                     31 August 2007

UA 229/07        Prisoner of conscience/fear of torture

IRAN                Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi (m), Azerbaijani language rights activist

Azerbaijani language rights activist Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi was beaten and detained on 14 May at his home in Tabriz: he

was reportedly first held at a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre, then moved on around 1 August to Tabriz’s central prison,

where his mother was able to visit him. She told an interviewer from the Voice of America (VOA) Azerbaijani-language

 radio station that he had been tortured. The following day he was apparently moved to a Ministry of Intelligence detention

 centre somewhere in Tabriz, where he is at grave risk of torture. He has not been formally charged with any offence.

On 4 August, his mother, Jamileh Kazimi, had told the VOA Azerbaijani-language service that her son had been detained for his

defence of Iranian Azerbaijanis' right to use their language. She said that he had been tortured, causing his teeth to be broken, hair

 to be pulled from his scalp, and blue bruising marks all over his face and body.

His father, Rahim Banayi Kazimi, who has been able to visit him once, reportedly stated that his son had begun a hunger strike

to draw attention to his plight, but it is not known whether he is continuing with it.

Iranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are the largest minority in Iran, constituting at least 25-30 per cent of the

population. They live mainly in the north and north-west of the country. They are increasingly demanding greater cultural and

 linguistic rights, including the right to education in their mother tongue of Azerbaijani Turkic. A small minority advocate

 secession of Iranian Azerbaijan from the Islamic Republic of Iran and union with the Republic of Azerbaijan. Those who

seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity are viewed with suspicion by the Iranian authorities, who often accuse

 them of vague charges such as "promoting pan-Turkism".

In May 2006, massive demonstrations took place in towns and cities in north-western Iran, where the majority of the

population is Iranian Azerbaijani, in protest at a cartoon published on 12 May by the state-owned daily newspaper

 Iran, which many Iranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. Hundreds were arrested during and after the demonstrations.

Other waves of arrests have occurred around dates significant to the Azerbaijani community, such as a boycott of the

 start of the academic year in September 2006, after demonstrations in February 2007 on the occasion of International

 Mother Tongue day, and on the anniversary of the May 2006 demonstrations.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Azerbaijani

Turkic, Turkish, Arabic, English, French or your own language:
- expressing concern at reports that Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi has been detained since 14 May without access to

 legal representation of his choice or medical care, and has been tortured;
- urging the authorities to investigate his alleged torture and protect him from further torture or other ill-treatment;
- calling on the authorities to enable Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi to seek independent medical care;
- asking why he was arrested, including details of any charges brought against him;
- urging the authorities to release Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi unless he is to be charged with an internationally recognisable

 criminal offence;
- expressing concern that Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi appears to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his defence

of the right of the Azerbaijani people in Iran to use their own language.



Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation:         Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation:         Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax:         +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email:        (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation:         Your Excellency

Parliamentary representative for Tabriz, Oskou and Azar Shahr
Akbar A’lami,
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax:         +98 21 3355 6408
Salutation:         Dear Sir


His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
         via website:
Salutation:         Your Excellency

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office,

if sending appeals after 12 October 2007.

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