No.: 440/ 2007

Date: 28 January 2007

8, Rue Saint Sabin, 75544 PARIS Cedex 11, France

 CC      Mrs. Harrison, Amnesty International, London

            UN OHCHR, Geneva, to be circulated among:

·          Special Rapporteur on the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

·         The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (also for Fair Trials)

·         Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

·          The Independent Expert on Minority Issues


Mr. Abbas Leysanli

Dear sir/madam,

Re           Request for MSF Medical Attention to Mr. Abbas Leysanli, a Prisoner of Conscience

We would like to draw your attention to the urgent medical needs of Mr. Abbas Leysanli, verified by Amnesty International to be a prisoner of conscience. His medical needs stem from an ongoing hunger strike that he resorted to as the final remaining measure for safeguarding his human rights. He is now extremely vulnerable and as colleagues of MSF, we, the Union of Azerbaijani Doctors and Academics (UADA) and also DunAzHAK, request your involvement.

Mr. Leysanli is a protagonist of the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan, Iran, but imprisoned by Iranian authorities for not complying with the racist policies spearheaded by the Islamic Republic of Iran. By way of background, we suffice to mention the fact that the depth of the Southern Azerbaijani struggle against Iranian racism can be highlighted in terms of the banned status of our mother tongue since 1926.

The treatment experienced by Mr. Leysanli in the hands of Iranian authorities is tantamount to being tormented, a glimpse of which is reflected in Amnesty International’s Urgent Action ( By way of summary we would like to draw attention to the context of his ongoing ordeal as follows:

  • After 28 days, he is extremely vulnerable, lost a lot of weight, cannot walk straight and is barely recognisable;
  • Since 18 January, he has been transferred back to solitary confinement, kept in a very small cell without any heating, in an area where temperatures can fall to -10°C during the night;
  • He suffers from stomach and kidney problems and from pains in his ribs - reminders of torture by Iranian authorities;
  • He was forced to share a cell with non-political prisoners and drug addicts for a time to induce infection;
  • Amnesty International indicates that his access to adequate medical care is hampered;
  • Iranian authorities have singled him out to the extent that they are even violating their own laws and as such they refuse to grant him short-term leave and keep him in an undignified condition.

In summary, the situation is that (i) the Iranian authorities have a dismal record with human rights; (ii) Mr. Leysanli is vulnerable and in his current conditions is at risk of dying; (iii) following Mr. Leysanli’s strategy of peaceful struggle, the nation of Southern Azerbaijan is unable to save him but extremely concerned. As your colleagues, we are well aware that you meet humanitarian demands under difficult conditions irrespective of language, religion, creed, race and politics.

We request your humanitarian medical attention by directly examining Mr Leysanli. Thank you in advance for your care.

Yours faithfully

The Union of Azerbaijani Doctors and Academics

C/O Dr Gharevi

Post Box (Fach) 170355

53029 Bon, Germany

Mr Boyuk Resuloglu


The Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the World Azerbaijanis (DunAzHAK)

A Short Introduction to Mr. Abbas Leysanli’s Political Activitie

Today (28 January 2007), Mr. Leysanli has been in jail for 28 days, resorting to hunger strike for the second time. In the first instance, he continued his hunger strike for 56 days (4 June – 29 July 2006) and started the ongoing one on 1 January 2007. Hunger strike seems to be the only means remaining at his disposal to protest against ill treatment and deprivation of various prisoners’ rights including statutory day release.

Abbas Leysanli may be a poet, writer, and a journalist, but this protagonist of the Southern Azerbaijani national movement is undoubtedly in love with the right to freedom of speech and association. This right is the keystone in his vision for his nation and he used it to facilitate a paradigm shift in Southern Azerbaijan from intellectual movement to daring activism. In this way, he has played a key role in creating a new generation of Southern Azerbaijani national activists, who hold human rights in high regard and act by merging national rights with human rights. In consequence, the foundations of Iranian racism are threatened.

It normally takes a leader to recognise the subtlety of a simple idea and transform it into a viable tool. By virtue of three qualities: intellect, romanticism and physical endurance, Mr Leysanli emerged as an individual who recognised the immense power of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the only tool to confront Iranian racism. Thanks to his physical endurance, he has withstood the relentless persecution of Iranian authorities but without an International support this symbol of modern resistance is in danger.

The history of Mr. Leysanli’s open campaign against the brand of racism waged by Iranian theocrats goes back to early 2000 since which time eight court cases have been brought against him, all of which are based on arbitrary charges, e.g. publishing a calendar in his mother tongue, reciting poems, preparing placards for an annual gathering, using the Internet to send messages and so on. Amnesty International consistently argues that none of the charges brought against him are recognisable by international law. The futility of the charges brought to him by Iranian authorities is self-evident in the charges imputed by the Judge in the sentence issued for taking part in a traditional annual gathering at the historic site of Babek Castle. The sentence reads as follows (no commentary is needed):

1.          Actively participating in many special and illegal ceremonies, e.g annual assembly at Babek Castle,                                                                                                               

2.          Encouraging other members of the public to participate in that Assembly,

3.          Preparing placards of various sizes in Turkic Azerbaijani written in Latin alphabet,

4.          Reciting Azerbaijani poems, preparing and reading other relevant materials to other participants,

5.          Preparing and distributing Turkic National Calendar within the province and nationwide,

6.          Keeping in close contact with people of similar opinions and other compatriots,

7.          Intending to promote Azerbaijani Turkic nationalism and independence,

8.          Keeping in touch with other individuals of similar ideologies within Iran and abroad, using the Internet to send messages to various websites etc.

Abbas Leysanli was imprisoned on 31 October 2006, five days after he lodged an appeal against a sentence of 16 months’ imprisonment and 50 lashes, imposed by Iranian Azerbaijanis for Mr. Leysanli’s participation in the May 2006 Mass Protests against a cartoon in the state-owned daily newspaper Iran, which offended the integrity of the nation of Southern Azerbaijan. The term of imprisonment was increased to 18 months, with an additional period of time to be spent in exile in Tabas, which is unprecedented. Amnesty International remains concerned that the procedure in the Appeal Court may not have been genuine.

Norte: He is currently kept in Erdebil (Ardabil) prison, Erdebil, the Province of Erdebil, Iran

Reverse Chronology on the Ordeals Inflicted by Iranian Authorities against Mr. Leysanli



1 Jan 2007

The start of the second round of hunger strike (the first round was last year for 56 days (4 June – 29 July 2006).  This hunger strike is still going on.

28 Dec 2006

Two open letters issued to the Public Prosecutor in Erdebil and to the Prison authority of Erdebil, giving them notice on the intended hunger strike as a last resort for safeguarding him human rights

31 Oct 2006

Rearrested and imprisoned

20? Oct 2006

Launched the appeal against the sentence

15? Oct 2006

27 Sept 2006 issued later

The sentence for the May 2006 Mass Protests was issued:



1.       Creating public disorder

2.       Participating in illegal marches and gatherings for the purpose of causing social disorder all over Erdebil during the afternoon of Saturday 27 May 2006.

3.       Participating in intentional arson and destruction of state-owned properties.

4.       Encouraging members of the public to commit illegal activities on the aforesaid date which resulted in fire and destruction of approximately 66 private and state owned banks, Refah Supermarket and Traffic Police Station in Erdebil, causing damages to people’s vehicles, in particular to the vehicles carrying government number plates.


1.       Ten months of imprisonment and fifty lashes for disturbing the peace, causing public disorder by encouraging others to behave in irrational ways on Saturday 27 May 2006

2.       A further sentence of six months of imprisonment for participating in destruction and burning of public and private properties.

26 Sep 2006

The nation of Southern Azerbaijan was jubilant for the release on bail (amount: 80 million Riyal, equivalent to $8000) of the leader of the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan at 2.00 p.m. by meeting. This was rather unexpected and was attributed to the ongoing international campaign.

7 Sept 2006

The dossier related to the May 2006 Mass Protests was referred to the Penal Court No. 105 of the General Penal Court of the province of Erdebil. Mr. Feqihi, the lawyer defending Mr. Leysanli, gave a statement to the reporter of ISNA saying that his client is accused of inciting riot and wrecking public places and also helping with arson. Reportedly he attended the above court to study the file of his client and was expecting to hear the date for the trial.



3 Sept 2006

Tried in the Revolutionary Court in Tebriz. He was arrested together with a number of other activists on 3 August 2005 when commemorating the Constitution Day last year. The detainees on that occasion were all released by meeting bails except Hojjet-ul-islam Ezimi Qedim and after passage of so much time Mr. Leysanli was summoned to the court while in detention.

2 Sept 2006

A statement by Mrs. Ruqeyye Leysanli:

1.        “I visited my husabnd today in the morning. He is maltreated and kept with other sick inmates; despite his protested to this situation to the authorities nobody was listening.”

2.       Mrs. Leysanli: “today I received a letter from from the court in Keleyber containing the sentence passed to my husband. According to this sentence he is sentenced for one year of imprisonment for taking part in the Babek Assemmbly on June 2005.”

The Charges:

1.       Actively participating in many special and illegal ceremonies such as annual assembly at Babek Castle,                                                                                                              

2.       Encouraging other members of the public to participate in that Assembly,

3.       Preparing placards of various sizes in Turkic Azerbaijani written in Latin alphabet,

4.       Reciting Azerbaijani poems, preparing and reading other relevant materials to other participants,

5.       Preparing and distributing Turkic National Calendar within the province and nationwide,

6.       Keeping in close contact with people of similar opinions and other compatriots,

7.       Intending to promote Azerbaijani Turkic nationalism and independence,

8.       Keeping in touch with other individuals of similar ideologies within Iran and abroad, using the Internet to send messages to various websites etc.

The Sentence

·         A total of 16 months of imprisonment

·         50 lashes

·         Exile

29 July 2006

Mrs. Ruqeyye Leysanli, the wife of Mr. Leysanli was finally allowed to visit her husband in the secure unit of the Erdebil Prison. She showed him a letter undersigned by prominent Southern Azerbaijani activists (including the Society of Southern Azerbaijani Academics (AzBilTop) and the Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners of Southern Azerbaijan – ASMEK) to break his hunger strike. Finally, Mr. Leysanli obliged to the delight of the nation.

26 July 2006

Mr. Leysanli was taken to the trial court. He challenged all the charges against him and emphasised that he only advocates civil approaches and democratic means for the attainment of the national and human rights of Southern Azerbaijan and charges against him are false.

22 July 2006

The Message from Mr. Leysanli smuggled out of Prison:

“The purpose behind my hunger strike including my refusal for the intake of water is to convey the message of the nation of (Southern) Azerbaijan to the world – freedom. Should I die, then let me join the rank of those who pay the ultimate price of life for the nation of Azerbaijan.”

21 July 2006

A statement issued by 19 Members of the European Parliament (MEP), asking Iran to release the political prisoners of Southern Azerbaijan.

16 July 2006

Mr. Leysanli’s family has finally managed to visit him lately in the Erdebil Prison. His conditions were described as deeply worrying, as he was even unable to stand up or sit on a chair. He has been transferred to the hospital in Erdebil and being injected continually with IV drips after being on hunger strike for 35 days with a further 11 days he has even refused the intake of water/liquid. He is extremely pale; his vision is impaired; and due to his continuous hunger strikes, his digestion and kidney systems are extremely upset. His weight is now 85 kg, reduced by 30 kg within 46 days of hunger strike.

8 July 2006

After approximately 20 days of hunger strike, his physical conditions was reportedly grave and at this time he was transferred for a secure unit in the prison hospital and the prison authorities prevented him to be transferred to a hospital.

3 July 2006

Mr. Leysanli resumes his hunger strike, as a protest against the behaviour of the prison authorities in mistreating the political prisoners of Southern Azerbaijan.

30 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli breaks his hunger strike after the insistence of friends and his family members.

27 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli smuggles a message out of prison on the occasion of the Babek Assembly:

“Freedom or Death, as I know of no other way.”

23 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli was transferred to a Secure unit of the Erdebil Prison.

12 June 2006 to 14 June 2006

Statements issued or questions raised by various European parliamentarians including: Jonas Sjostedt and Eva-Britt Svensson in Sweeden, European Parliament and Amnesty International.

11 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli is forced fed by Intravenous (IV) Drips.

10 June 2006

He is banned from receiving any visitor (due to being tortured).

9 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli refuses the intake of water on top of his hunger strike.

8 June 2006

Mrs. Ruqeyye Leysanli was threatened and was ordered not to campaigning for her husband.

5 June 2006

The authorities shut down Mr. Leysanli’s business.

4 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli starts his hunger strike.

3 June 2006

Mr. Leysanli was arrested after security agents broke into his home midnight and subjected him to torture in front of his young children and wife and confiscated his computers, poems, writings and his personal belongings.

31 May 2006

He gave a long telephone interview to GunAzTV and predicted that he would be imminently arrested.

27 May 2006

He gave a moving speech to the mass protesters in Erdebil, where 200,000 people were participating and he called them for calm in their anti-apartheid movement.

24 May 2006

A leaflet was distributed in Erdebil calling them to take part in a mass protest on 27 May 2006.

  Azərbaijani Turkic

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