Our Ref.: 228/2002Date: 03/01/2003
Middle East SectionAmnesty international London United Kingdom Dear Mr Dyke May we draw your kind attention to our letter (reference no. 225/2002 dated 06/11/20020 addressed to your good self) that appeals for assistance to protect the rights of Mr. Ali Suleymani, one of the writers of Shams-I-Tebriz weekly, which used to be published in Tebriz capital of Southern Azerbaijan After a month of intensive interrogation in prison, he was officially charged on 08/11/2002. Shortly after that, he was released on 20 million tuman ( 24 Thousand US dollar) bail because of kidney failure under torture and to ease public pressure. His trial will be on 08/01/2003 in Erdebil city. Like many other advocates of Southern Azerbaijanis rights he was accused of Pan-Turkism, separatism, inciting nations against each other and meeting with some human rights organisations in Baku. In order to frighten our rights activists they deliberately prolong the trials until the dust is settled and then hand down heavy sentences. We call upon you to send an observer to oversee his trial in order to prevent repetition of previous scenarios. We would like to remind you the initial verdict in trial of Ali Hamed Iman, editor-in-chief of Shame-I-Tebriz weekly. He was found guilty on 18 counts, sentenced to 74 lashes, 7 month of impairment and half a million tuman (800 USD) fine and temporary closure of his weekly. On his appeal court the judge sentenced him to 2 years imprisonment, 5 million tuman (7 thousand USD)fine to be paid in cash,74 lashes and permanent closure of the weekly. As he continues to fight against injustice he has once again been summoned to attend Iranian court on different charges on 12/01/2003. It is feared that they might impose even harsher sentences upon him. We call upon you to examine his trial and discover for yourself that he has only defended Azerbaijanis rights within the boundary of Iranian constitution. We should also emphasis that as the national movement of Azerbaijanis of South is gaining momentum Islamic Republic of Iran inserting more pressure on rights activists. We would also like to reiterate that their demands are in complete accordance with international law. In 2002 alone some 1000 Azerbaijanis were arrested and imprisoned/ sentenced to suspended prison terms, or threatened with dire consequences of their activities in order to frighten them off the political arena. During last month’s events so many of our young compatriots were arrested. Some such as Mahmud Fezli , Erkin musevi , Ayet Mehrelibeyli ,Eziz purveli ,Teymur Nesirifer, yusif Shahabniya (in Tebriz prisons) Hemid Zemani and Huseyn Elilu (in Urmu’s prison) are still in prison. Score of these detainees has gone on hunger strike to protest against the torture and imprisonment. As we mentioned in our letter no. 114/2000 dated 03/07/2000 QulamRza Emani was handed down a heavy sentence. Mr Dindari of city of Hemedan was assassinated because of his intensive campaign for raising awareness among Azerbaijani Turks of their rights. Rza Qeffari a well known Azerbaijani linguist, writer of score of scientific articles about Azerbaijan in our national language , 45 years old organiser of Azerbaijani symposium in Sherefxana( West of Tebriz) in 1998 died in mysterious circumstances. Recently Southern Azerbaijani intellectuals once again have been in the firing line and so-called pressure groups are attacking their work place and homes. Scare mongering and creation of atmosphere of terror have been intensified. We call upon you to do your utmost to assist us in improving the situation. Please send an envoy to observe the conditions and treatment of political prisoners in Southern Azerbaijan. Yours sincerely, Committee for Protection of World Azerbaijanis Rights (KPWAR) Chairman Boyuk Resuloglu Date: 19/08/2002 No:221/2000 To: Dr Walter Schwimmer -
President of Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly
High Commissioner of UN on Humann Rights in
3. All transportation companies in Southern Azerbaijan were ordered not to take passengers to the castle by threatening non-obedient companies with prosecution. Iranian regime by taking these preventive measures was hoping to lower the number of participants to 30-40 thousands, but to their disappointment up to a million people marched to the Babek Castle and security forces had no option but to withdraw from the scene.
4. All vehicles that were heading towards the castle stopped, searched, their registration numbers were taken, and passengers were filmed by numerous checkpoints set up by security forces.
5. After the events fifteen participants including three ladies were arrested. Later on three were released, 5 were handed over to revolutionary court, 7 were taken to an unknown location ( Zohreh Vafayi, Mahmud Yekanli, Jamshid Azari, Mahni Zenjanli and…)
6.During the days of Babek, Northern Azerbaijani (Azerbaijan Republic) tourists were mistreated and passports of some of them were confiscated on suspicion of attending the march. Two ladies and three gentlemen have lodged a complaint about behaviour of Islamic Republic of Iran's officials to CPWAR.
7. Head of Iranian revolutionary court in Tebriz known as Mahmudi extraordinarily admitted the mass participation of people in the march and used scare-mongering tactics by threatening participants of next years to dire consequences of their action. He branded the participants Panturkist that can carry the death penalty if convicted in court of law.
8. One month after the big march, Iranian Secret Police is continuing to arrest those whom have been spotted in the scores of films they have taken of the event. Some Azerbaijani Cultural Centers which have previously managed to obtain license for their activities were now closed without any explanation.( Goverchin Cultural Centre in Erdebil)
We believe international community and council of Europe have moral and legal obligations to prevent a catastrophe from happening. Our only defence is international public opinion.
May we thank you for your time and attention. The World Azerbaijanis Rights Defence Comitee Boyuk Rasuloghlu
Cc: To Dear friend Mr. Drewery Dyke - Amnesty International London