No.: 478/ 2008

Date: 13 January  2008

The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva

            Please circulate this letter to:

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

·    The Independent Expert on Minority Issues The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (also for Fair Trials)

·    Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

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


Mr. Abbas Leysanli


a prison of conscience

Dear sir/madam,


Please find enclosed Update 10 for safeguarding national and human rights of Mr. Abbas Leysanli, presenting you his incredible courage on December the 30th of December in 1997 over the Iranian racism. This was the date that marked a paradigm shift for the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan; and we argue below that, it was a watershed in the timeline of human rights. Table 1 presents a detailed account of the events on the day, as they rolled out, but a brief context of the events is as follows:

  • Update 1 (Ref: 399/2006; Date: 18 October 2006) informed you of the arbitrary sentence passed by the Iranian authorities against Mr. Leysanli, which included the heinous act of flogging.
  • Update 8 (Ref: 474/2007; Date: 21 December 2007) alerted you of the threat posed by the Iranian authorities to carry out the sentence, and we compiled the document as soon as we were sure of the authenticity of the threat.
  • In Update 9 (Ref: 476/2007; Date: 29 December 2007) we retained a glimmer of hope that there could still remain a shred of humanism within some echelons of the Iranian authorities and therefore they would not dare to carry out this part of the sentence against Mr. Leysanli, who is increasingly being seen as a formidable Figure Head of the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan. Our hopes were dashed, when the authorities steamed ahead in full power to proceed with the act of flogging. Notwithstanding this, the Iranian authorities were rebuffed by Mr. Leysanli’s masterful display of gallantry and determination, as detailed in Table 1.

To Mr. Leysanli’s credit, his triumph was realised when he was in the “position of disadvantage” owing to his captivity in an Iranian dungeon, while he refused to be flogged by Iranian authorities. We argue that:

1.     The Iranian authorities’ intention to proceed callously with the flogging took the shape of inflicting an act of vengeance against the nation of Southern Azerbaijan. Mr. Leysanli therefore defended his nation’s national and human rights whilst in captivity. The act of Iranian authorities was unworthy of an authority undersigning the Universal Human Rights Declaration; whereas the tactic deployed by Mr. Leysanli was visionary and reflective of his Figure Head role.

2.     Mr. Leysanli is a poet and whilst he is fully inspired by the body of human rights, he also has a thorough insight into its penetrative capabilities. How else can one stand up against the whipping iron-fist of the Iranian authorities in the abyss of Iranian dungeons without relying on the spiritual might of the Universal Human Rights Declaration?

3.     The integrity of human rights is safeguarded, if defended. Conversely, the body of human rights is universal and therefore anyone’s defence even at a local scale is a contribution towards the whole. Thus, Mr. Leysanli’s defence in this episode was a contribution towards the global integrity of human rights.

4.     Since, Mr. Leysanli rebuffed culprit Iranian authorities and set a solid example, the outcome was a significant watershed in the timeline of human rights.

Owing to the significance of this incident in the timeline of human rights, we therefore have a word to say about the “missed opportunity” for the world media and any indifferent human rights organisations. The absence of coverage of this episode in the world media was a solid example of unhealthy sensationalism in the world media and a pathetic attitude towards a range of visionary human rights defence acts. This episode exposes a serious challenge to maintain the integrity of human rights and let those media and human rights defenders be informed that their inaction was in this occasion posed a notable threat to the integrity of the Universal Human Rights Declaration. We thank anyone or any organisation who acted according to their capacity.

Above all, Mr. Leysanli is now kept illegally in another prison whilst his prison term has been completed. We will be writing to you in due course. The nation of Southern Azerbaijan is going through anxious moments whilst the emerging Figure Head of their national movement is under the custody of culprit elements and whilst he is kept illegally in prison.

Never before, the UN mandates on national and human rights have been so much necessary to safeguard national and human rights of Mr. Leysanli. Also, we hope you will seek to explicitly for definite guarantees for his safety and personal wellbeing.

We thank you in advance and hope that you will use all within your power to safeguard the human rights of Mr Leysanli and thereby of the nation of Azerbaijan.

Yours faithfully,

Boyuk Resuloglu

The Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis

Table 1  Mr. Leysanli’s Triumphant Defiance against Flogging

We have information from a number of sources (,, as well as and, including our own and all are complementary. Rather than translating them individually, we decided to collate them together and present the events as they unfolded. Where we make assumptions, they will be highlighted.


Unfolding events


Some Background on Flogging

One of the policies of Iranian authorities on Southern Azerbaijan is to Balkanise the historic Azerbaijan and in time remove the historic name of Azerbaijan from Erdebil, Sunqur, Zengan, Qezvin, Hemedan, Erak … (and now they pose the same risk to Maki, Salmas, Khoy, Sulduz, Maragha, Qoshachay, Soyuq Bulaq). When they carved out Erdebil as a newly founded province from the historic Azerbaijan, the authorities hoped that no one would speak in their mother tongue and they were quick to pass flogging sentences to Southern Azerbaijani prisoners of conscience given half a chance to humiliate them. One such sentence was passed against Mr. Leysanli in 2005, at which time more than 200 Southern Azerbaijani activists signed a petition on 21 July 2005 ( and demanded the repeal of the sentence, else they offered themselves instead of Mr. Leysanli.

Early December


Recent Background

Over the last few months, the Iranian authorities had been tightening the screws over Southern Azerbaijani activists to create a repressive atmosphere. When the Iranian reformist ex-president Mr. Khatami visited Tebriz on 21 December 2007 for a stage managed speech to students in Tebriz, the Southern Azerbaijani students rebuffed him. At the same day (21 December, a Southern Azerbaijani activist from Sulduz suffered the callous 50 number of floggings. We sensed that these were probably to gauge the mood in Southern Azerbaijan for a possible public flogging but all the signals were there that even if the authorities repress our nation, the national defiance mood cannot be undermined. As a result, the authorities seemingly decided to inflict the heinous act of flogging in the controlled environment, in a Court of Justice! Belonging to the Ministry of Justice.


And now the roll out of the incidents


20-28 December

The Southern Azerbaijani media was in a sombre but defiant mood and reflecting any meagre incident in this relation. All the sources of information, including our own, were indicative of a show down of force.

Later in the day on:

29 Dec 07

Mr. Leysanli succeeded to make a telephone call from Erdebil prison to Mr. Hesen Erk, in Tebriz, informing him that “I am determined not to give in to the act of flogging in whatever mode. The Iranian authorities have to get me by force.”

30 Dec 07

Early morning

The authorities spread bogus SMS messages to lower the morale informing them that Mr. Leysanli was flogged.

Published at 12.02 GMT /


15.32 Tebriz time

A reliable eyewitness published the events ( as he saw in the Court of Law including those possibly indirect accounts, which he received afterwards. These are as follows:

·     5.30 a.m. GMT: Leysnli was brought in to Erdebil Court by 17 fully-armed military officers and one Guard officer.

·     The number of armed officers overwhelmed the court and their presence wreaked havoc among the people present there.

·     As ordered by the Prosecutor, two armed officers accompanying Leysanli entered a chamber of the Court for the execution of the sentence.

·     Tens of Southern Azerbaijani activists had managed to get to the perimeter of the Court waiting to get a glimpse of Leysanli.

·     The cameras of the authorities were busy of filming these activists.

·     The Prosecutor ordered Leysanli to get ready for the execution of the sentence.

·     Leysanli responds that he is defending the nation of Southern Azerbaijan and will not yield as long as he breathes

·     The outraged Prosecutor resorts to an uncompromising mood.

·     Leysanli is not budged and rather assume a determined self-defence condition.

·     The Prosecutor changes the mood and state that I swear by my children that this flogging is not aimed at hurting you but to satisfy the letter of the law and promises that the beatings will be delivered in a mild fashion.

·     Leysanli cries out: The age of slavery is over. Long live the proud and libertarian nation of Azerbaijan

·     The Prosecutor approaches Leysanli and assumes a begging and kind mood; touching his head and says: “my son please let the sentence be carried out. Do not mind the business of the State. Think of your three children. Wait a while and be quiet, as thing will be fine and your soul will gain freedom by going home.”


·     Leysanli responds that “my soul and my children’s convenience are devoted to the freedom of Southern Azerbaijan. Mr. Proescutor: my struggle aims to gain freedom to all including your children.”

8.30 GMT

·     Leysanli was kept in the Court until 12.00 (Tebriz Time)

·     The Prosecutor orders to return Leysanli back to Erdebil prison.

·     There follows an indirect account of the events, the authenticity of which is confirmed by emerging news later.





30 Dec 07

·     After transferring Leysanli to the prison, Rahbari-niya, a non-Azerbaijani and an extreme pro-Farsi judge threatens Leysanli for harsh punishments.

·     Leysanli was then transferred to his cell in the prison but a number of prison personnel attack him.

·     Leysnli stands up against the attack and rebuffs them. The attackers are in vain.

·     Leysanli is then transferred to a special chamber.

·     It is understood that this outcome leaves the officers in vain.

·     Later in the day, Leysanli was taken to Rahbari-niya, the judge.

·     The Judge orders the soldiers to bring Leysanli to the position of flogging and he shouts that “I will have the honour of flogging him myself.”

·     The soldiers disobey the judge and none makes any move towards Leysanli.

·     Using a foul language, the judge threatens each and every soldier present but in vain.

·     The soldiers are angered from the behaviour of the judge but eventually the judge resorts to silence.

·     Leysanli was then transferred to his cell and later in the day was ordered to be transferred to Eher prison.

Later in the day on

30 Dec 07

·     This triumphant news was distributed all over Southern Azerbaijan by SMS messages.

·     The defiance of Mr. Leysanli’s wife (Mrs. Ruqeyye Leysanli) and his mother are reported to match that of himself.


·     It has been confirmed that Mr. was transferred to Eher prison that day but these will be reported in another Update.

31 Dec 07

·     Leysanli called Mr. Hesen Erk in Tebriz and confirmed the manner in which he rebuffed the authorities.

31 Dec 07

·     Mrs. Ruqeyye Leysanli (Mr. Leysanli’s wife) called Voice of America and gave an interview to them confirming that the threat  and the proceeding of the authority was in vain.

Azərbaijani Turkic

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