Date: 13 January 2008
of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva
Please circulate this letter to:
Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Independent Expert on Minority Issues
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (also for Fair
Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
CC Mr Dyke
and Mrs. Harrison, Amnesty International, London
a prison of
UPDATE NO 10:
TRIAMPHANTLY DEFIANT MR LEYSANLI REBUFFED IRANIAN RACISTS
AGAINST FLOGGING AND SAID: SLAVERY IS DEAD VIVA AZERBAIJAN
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
(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.
(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
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
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.
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?
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
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
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.
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
http://www.azgala.com/ as well as
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.
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 (http://tomarlar.blogspot.com/2005/07/blog-post.html)
and demanded the repeal of the sentence, else they
offered themselves instead of Mr. Leysanli.
Over the last few months, the Iranian
authorities had been tightening the screws over Southern
Azerbaijani activists to create a repressive atmosphere.
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.
the roll out of the incidents
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
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
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
Tens of Southern
Azerbaijani activists had managed to get to the
perimeter of the Court waiting to get a glimpse of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.