No.: 471/2007

Tarix: 09.12.07

The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva,

                Please circulate this Communication to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, also this is of interest to:

·          Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

·          The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

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

·          The Independent Expert on Minority Issues

CC      Mr. Dyke and Mrs. Harrison, Amnesty International, London

            UNESCO and various news media

 

Ilqar Merendli

 

A Southern Azerbaijani prisoner of conscience

Dear sir/madam

COMMUNICATION NO 1          MR. ILQAR MERENDLI, A SOUTHERN AZERBAIJANI HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDER

Please find enclosed a new Communication on Mr. Ilqar Merendli (formally, his full name is Yaqub Saliki-niya and if transcribed by the Farsi pronunciation, the full name could be transcribed as Yagoob Saleki niya) for safeguarding human rights of this distinguished human rights defender of Southern Azerbaijan, who is being persecuted arbitrarily by Iranian authorities. The documents provided for your attention are:

Table 1:  The Communication form for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, using the information by ASMEK (the Defence of Southern Azerbaijani Prisoners of Conscience);

Table 2:  An overview of the prolific journalistic activities of Mr. Merendli; and

Table3:   The translation of an article on ASMEK, which the victim is a co-founder.

The information submitted for your attention has a focus on the desperate Iranian authorities aiming to obtain confession under torture. We therefore believe that without an international campaign of support, the victim is at a very grave risk of torture.

We would like to mention that in compiling this Communication we have not consulted the victim, his family or any of his representatives. This is our initiative alone.

We would urge you for an immediate representation against the appropriate Iranian authority in defence of human rights of this arduous human rights defender. Thank you in advance for your care.

Yours faithfully,

Boyuk Resuloglu

Chairperson of the Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis

Table 1           Communication on Mr. Ilqar Merendli – This Communication has been compiled on the basis of reports by ASMEK ( http://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=36598249&postID=4065528567272895952)

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

FAX:  (41 22) 917 90 06

1.         Information regarding the alleged victim

1.1       Full name

            Ilqar Merendli (formally, his full name is Yaqub Saliki-niya and if transcribed by the Farsi pronunciation, the full name could be transcribed as Yagoob Saleki niya)

1.2       Age

            34 years old

1.3       Sex

            Male

1.4       Profession or occupation

            Journalist, blogger, publisher and advertiser

1.5       Place of residence (or origin, if relevant to the violation suffered)

            His place of normal residence is Tehran

1.6       The victim’s affiliation, if any, with an organization, association or group engaged in human rights work:

            He is a co-founder of ASMEK and an NGO Azerbaijan Youth Centre (Azerbaycan Gencler Evi), which is active in Tehran with branches in Southern Azerbaijani cities

1.6.1    Name of the organization, association or group

He is a co-founder of an NGO called Azerbaijan Youth Centre (Azerbaycan Gencler Evi), which is active in Tehran with branches in other Southern Azerbaijani cities

1.6.2    Name of the person heading the organization, association or group

                ASMEK

1.6.3    Nature of human rights work the individual performs

Background on how Southern Azerbaijanis are victimised in Iran: The Iranian authorities have a gigantic covert organisations, agents and resources at their disposal and this together with collusions among a whole range of authorities (the judicial authorities, the police, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information – the notorious Ettelaat – they are able to act brutally. As far as the nation of Southern Azerbaijan is concerned, the brute Iranian repressive machinery is able to treat Southern Azerbaijanis arbitrarily, brutally and in the silence of disinformation. Also, Iranian media is often silent about Southern Azerbaijani activists. Normally, when Southern Azerbaijanis publicise the individual cases and it becomes a public knowledge, only then Iranian media may give a brief exposure to Southern Azerbaijani victims. It is therefore a challenge, to say the least, to obtain any information on the Southern Azerbaijani victims.

 

Background on Southern Azerbaijanis responses to Iranian racism: In this background in May 2006, more than two million Southern Azerbaijanis orchestrated mass protests against the racist policies of the Islamic republic of Iran, which was a culmination of years of infra-structure works of building the culture for the reinstatement of human and national rights of the nation of Southern Azerbaijan. Since then we have compiled documents showing that arbitrary detentions have been in thousands, injuries suffered by ordinary citizens of Southern Azerbaijanis have been in hundreds and even some thirty individuals have suffered extra-judicial executions. It is the human nature to cry out against such breakdown of human rights and fortunately there are countless Southern Azerbaijani activities to protest and many who defend the victims. One such defender is the victim, Mr. Ilqar Merendli, who is the co-founder of one such organisation known as ASMEK.

 

Background on ASMEK and the victim: ASMEK (the Defence for Southern Azerbaijani Prisoners of Conscience) is a top NGO human right organisation within Southern Azerbaijan, renowned for the accuracy of their report. In order to familiarise you more with ASMEK, we attach the translation of an article which was published in 2005. Naturally, the members of ASMEK and all the other human right organisations in Southern Azerbaijan undergo a very high risk to themselves in order to do “data mining” on the Southern Azerbaijani victims in the background of the ongoing silent repression. The founding members of ASMEK have been under relentless attack by the Iranian authorities, to the extent that Mr. Elirza Qulunci Javanbekht is now a political refugee; Mr. Rza Abbasi was arbitrarily detained nearly for year and now Mr. Ilqar Merendli is arbitrarily detained. These individuals and other members have also been detained in the past.

 

1.7       If the alleged violation is against an organization:

            Although, the violation is against the individual, but the organisation co-founded by the victim is also under relentless attack.

1.7.1    Name of the organization

            As described above, the organisation is called ASMEK.

1.7.2    Nature of the human rights work/activities it is engaged in

            The victim is a peaceful individual and committed to peace and human right defence. He has been contributing to obtaining very basic data on Southern Azerbaijani victims of Iranian repression.

 

            Another important theme in victim’s activities is the defence of mother language and promoting the Turkic identity of Southern Azerbaijanis against monolithic Farsi identity spearheaded by racist policies of the government of Iran.


 

1.7.3    Territorial scope of its work (national, regional, international)

             The victim’s activities cover the whole of Southern Azerbaijan.

1.7.4    Affiliations with other human rights organizations, if any

-

1.7.5    Name of person(s) heading the organization

            Not Applicable

1.7.6    Additional information on the history of the work the individual or organization has performed, if submitted, may be helpful in assessing the complaint/allegation.

Please refer to Tables 2 and 3.

2.         Nature of the alleged violation

            All relevant information regarding the violation allegedly committed against the human rights defender, or organization, association or group, including:

2.1       Date

            Tuesday 31 October 2007, at the evening

2.2       Place

In Tehran, the exact place is not known.

2.3       Description of the events/incident

                We understand that after arresting the victim, the covert agent had raided his house in the presence of his wife, Mrs. Baharek Salik-niya. We understand that the victim was also taken to his house by the covert agents while they searched his house for some two hours and found no illegal document in their house. All his books were published officially but they were confiscated anyway. In spite of this, he was then taken to a detention centre in Tehran.

 

2.4       Nature of violation suffered or threatened (The information must indicate the connection of the alleged violation to human rights activities performed.)

            The victim is an outspoken human right defender and apparently but there is no information on the incident of arrest. This is one of the points that we make persistently that the Iranian authorities fail their obligations to release official communiqué and in this way they inflict extra anxiety on the victims’ families.

 

2.5       If the violation involves or includes the arrest and/or imprisonment of an individual or group of human rights defenders, information is required on:

            The detention of the victim is a fact but our available facts are only so much.

.

2.6       Identity of the authority involved (individual and/or ministry and/or department)

            It is invariably the Ministry of Intelligence involved with these types of illegal acts. Our reports specify that the agents of the Ministry of Information (Ettelaat) arrested the victim but as usual the names of the individual agents/police committing the act of arrest are not known. They are beyond reach.

2.7       Date and place of arrest

31 October 2007

 

2.8       Any circumstances under which the arrest was made that are relevant to the violation

We presented some background above in Section 1.6.3. However, a further background is that the Iranian authorities are desperate for a propaganda coup by forcing the Southern Azerbaijani activists and human right defenders for a false confession. To this end, they most industrious but in vain and naturally, they regard Southern Azerbaijani activists as a big prize and hence the ordeal that this victim is suffering. The reports smuggled out of prison, show that Southern Azerbaijani activists and human right defenders are also tortured to agree for false confessions but no one has given in. International campaign is therefore of the paramount importance, else the victim stands a real chance of torture.

 

2.9       Nature of charges, if any, and the legal statute invoked

            There is no imputed charge, as the Iranian authorities religiously cover their track to hide the heinous face of their racist acts.

               

2.10     Potential penalties the individual or group faces

            The charges against Southern Azerbaijani activists when emerge from the underworld of Iranian disinformation, are normally nonsensical and Amnesty International has made this very point in many occasions. Despite the arbitrariness of the charges, penalties are nearly always severe and sometimes even reach as much of several years of punitive imprisonment together with hefty fines and the infamous act of flogging.

2.11     Place of detention, if known

            It is gathered to be Wing 209 of Evin prison, Tehran.

2.12     Term of detention

                No information has emerged from the underworld of Iranian disinformation system.

2.13     Information on the provision of access to legal counsel and family members

            As far as we know, Mr. Merendli has no access to a lawyer and this is typical.

2.14     Steps taken to seek administrative or judicial remedy, nature of the remedy sought, legal entity before which proceedings have been taken, and stage or result of such proceedings

            The campaign for safeguarding the victim’s human rights is strong by Southern Azerbaijanis both within Southern Azerbaijan and internationally. We are hoping that international organisations will soon realise the situation and campaign for this victim.

2.15     If the defender is being prosecuted in the courts for any activity in defence of human rights or related activity, or as a consequence of such activity:

            No information has been released by the officials and therefore we do not know of the intentions of the officials.

2.15.1 The date and location of the trial

-

2.15.2 The court hearing the case

            -

2.15.3 The relevant appeal procedures

            -

2.15.4 The penalties the group or individual faces

            -

3.         Perpetrator(s) of the alleged violation

 

3.1       Name(s), if known

            We consistently maintain that the authorities are extremely careful to cover their track on matters related to the politics of or national and human rights of Southern Azerbaijanis. So all the perpetrators are harboured dearly by the Iranian authorities.

3.2       If they are members of the security forces, their rank, functions, the unit or service, etc., to which they belong

            Please refer to 3.1, above.

3.3       If they are members of a civil defence group, paramilitary or other forces or an armed group, details on whether or how these groups relate to the State (e.g. cooperation with the State security forces, including information on chains of command, if available, State collusion with or acquiescence in their operations)

             Please refer to 3.1, above.

4.         Steps taken by or on behalf of the victim or organization to seek a remedy at the national level

 

4.1       All relevant information regarding whether a complaint was filed

            There is no opportunity to complain in Iran; else more harassment will be inflicted.

4.2       If so, when, where, by whom and before which authority

            -

5.         Steps taken by the concerned authorities

 

5.1       Whether or not an investigation or inquiry into the alleged violation has been initiated and/or concluded

             This is not really relevant in Iran when the victims are promoting the national and human rights for the nation of Southern Azerbaijan. The authorities are then most brutal and many organisations collude with one another including: the judiciary system attached to the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Information, and Ministry of Interior responsible for prisons, the police and many paramilitary organisations. We are definitely not expecting any governmental investigation.

5.2       If so, by which authority, ministry or department of the Government

             Please refer to 5.1, above.

5.3       Progress and status of the inquiry or investigation at the time of submission of the allegation

             Please refer to 5.1, above.

5.4       Whether or not the investigation or inquiry has resulted in charges or other legal action

             Please refer to 5.1, above.

5.5       If so, the reason why the result is unsatisfactory

             Please refer to 5.1, above.

5.6       Measures, if any, taken to protect person(s) under threat

             Please refer to 5.1, above.

 

6.         The violation alleged may not be the result of one incident or event, but may be a continuing violation owing to conditions, policies, practices or laws that obstruct the promotion, protection and/or realization of human rights

More background to this is given in our report:

-        Various General statements and Urgent by Amnesty International

-        Our report: 427/2006 on 26 December 2006

-        Our report: 424/ 2006 on 13 December 2006

-        Our report: 447/2007 on 4 March 2007

6.1       All relevant information regarding such conditions, policies, practices or laws

            -

6.2       The nature of the prejudice suffered by an individual or group(s) working for the defence of human rights because of the above

            Some of the symptoms of the racist policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran include:

·         Undermining the economical integrity of Southern Azerbaijan

·         The environment of Southern Azerbaijan is approaching a disaster, where the Iranian authorities regard our homelands as their backyard.

·         They are balkanising Azerbaijan and undermining its territorial integrity.

·         The prejudice is widespread, as our mother tongue is treated in contempt and as a sure sign of their exclusive treatment of the Farsi language as the superior language of the super human race of the “Aryans”. There is no single classroom in our mother tongue and the nation of Southern Azerbaijan is extremely upset about this and this is not tolerated anymore. The authorities are even violating their own Constitution with appropriate provisions for education in mother tongue.

6.3       Methods used to impede the work of human rights defenders on the basis of the above conditions, policies, practices or laws

                Intimidation, detention, imprisonment, flogging, financial crippling of the victims by releases on bail or fining and also shutting down businesses under the official seal. Other brutal acts include not issuing official information on the victims and threatening the victims’ families.

 

6.4       Agencies (State, non-State) employed to harass, intimidate and/or injure human rights defenders on the basis of these conditions or in implementing such laws, practices and policies

            Security agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, paramilitary units of Basij and Pasdar, and the police        

6.5       Possible measures that can be taken to remedy the situation

            International campaign

6.6       Any action taken by individuals or groups at the national level to reverse the conditions, policies and practices or for reform of the laws that are contrary to the rights recognized by the Declaration

There are very few outspoken members of parliament but it is extremely unlikely that they will defend this victim and their efforts in the past have hardly been effective or substantive.

 

Name and full address:

Mr. Boyuk Resuloglu,

Ayna, Sherifzade 1,

Baki,

The Republic of Azerbaijan

Telephone and fax numbers and e-mail address (if possible):

Tel/Fax: +47-99399225

Email: or boyuk_resuloglu@hotmail.com

 

Note that DunAzHAK is an NGO devoted to the defence of human rights of Southern Azerbaijanis.

 

 


 

TABLE 2   Prolific Activities of Mr. Ilqar Merendli (the source for this information is: (http://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=36598249&postID=4065528567272895952)

The human right defender and journalist, Mr. Ilqar Merendli, is an energetic individual and an important protagonist of the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan. He is 34 years old and a graduate of the University of Tebriz. He makes his living by publishing and advertisement. His journalistic activities go back 15 years and has collaborated with the following Southern Azerbaijani journals and newspapers:

  • The Salam newspaper
  • Furuq Azadi
  • The weekly publication of Esr-e-Azadi
  • Umid Zengan
  • Shems Tebriz
  • Nevid Azerbaijan
  • Ehrar
  • Ses
  • Chaghri
  • Yol
  • Above all, he had played an enabling role in the Southern Azerbaijani student publications in their design, printing and distributions.

 

Mr Merendli is a co-founder of ASMEK. For more information on this please refer to Table 3.

 

Mr. Merendli is also a co-founder of the Azerbaijan Youth Centre and very active in the activities of this centre, which has established branches in other cities of Southern Azerbaijan.

 

 

TABLE 3   Background Information on ASMEK (the Defence of Southern Azerbaijani Prisoners of Conscience)

National Movement of Southern Azerbaijan and ASMEK

From 1990 the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan rose from the ashes of a 100 year of democratic struggle, and in the course of the last 10 years the movement has been enriched by our intellectuals and transformed into an impregnable castle.

The principles of our struggle for the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan encompasses the paradigm of democracy and human rights, impregnating Iran with democracy as the benefits of our movement, securing the national rights of Southern Azerbaijan, the transformation of the Turkic language into an official language of Iran and defending human rights.

The escalation and the development of our national movement frightened the regimes in Tehran and therefore they planned the suppression of our movement. 

In this way, Southern Azerbaijani intellectuals have been subjected to enormous suppressions and up to now (Translator’s Note: up to 2004) 150 individuals have been sentenced in the various courts.

Often the suppressive policies of the government meet the seal of approval by reformists and opposition forces under the banner of Persian centralism (Translator’s Note: before 2004 there was an atmosphere of reform to Iran-centric forces but Azerbaijanis continued suffering a higher degree of suppression. However, there is no atmosphere of reform even to Iran-centric forces now).

In this situation, ASMEK (an abbreviation of the Turkic Azerbaijani expression: Azərbaycan Siyasal hbuslarını müdafıə Komitəsi  meaning the Committee for the Defence of Southern Azerbaijani Prisoners of Conscience) was formed in 2002, as an organisation befitting civil societies to defend the rights of Southern Azerbaijani prisoners of conscience. The aims of ASMEK consist of:

  • To help the Southern Azerbaijani prisoners of conscience in any diverse way
  • Encourage human rights through cultural and social activities
  • To inform the society on the values of human rights

In spite of all the repressions inflicted on ASMEK in the course of the last two years (Translator’s note: now six years), the organisation has significantly contributed to the wellbeing of the political detainees including material and moral support.

In the last part of 2004, the members of ASMEK itself was under a relentless attack and four of its members (Elirza C. QULUNCU, Rza ABBASI, Ilghar Merendli and Seid Neimi were heavily sentenced and penalised by the Islamic Revolutionary Court and brought ASMEK to the point of destruction.

However, our national movement has come to the point of no return and now it is an impregnable castle and the government cannot undermine our movement by such arbitrary actions anymore. Following the court sentences in 2004, ASMEK was regrouped in 2005 with new members and with the mission for defending human rights and securing our national rights.

Azərbaijani Turkic

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