The Problem of Southern Azerbaijan

No.: 490/ 2008

Date: 27 March  2008

The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva

Please circulate this Communication to the Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health. It is also relevant to the following:

·         Working Group on arbitrary detention (also for Fair Trials);

·         Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges;

·         Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

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

·         The Independent Expert on Minority Issues

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

Also:       Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Server


Mr. Abbas Leysanli


a prison of conscience

Dear sir/madam,


Please find enclosed General Communication 1 to rally for your campaign to the restoration of human rights of Mr. Abbas Leysanli. He is in the imminent risk of being flogged according to the Urgent Action by Amnesty International his deportation to Yazd was facilitated to flog him. Amnesty International also informs that Iran is state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), expressly prohibiting torture. We therefore bring to your urgent attention that your action is essential.

Concurrent with this Communication, we have now provided you the relevant information, reclassifying the court cases pressed by Iranian authorities against Mr. Leysanli and our submitted communications in his defence for your campaign. We summarise his situation for your attention:

  • Table 1 reminds you the court cases pressed by the Iranian authorities against Mr. Leysanli
  • Communication 1 (Ref: 378/2006 on 31 August 2006 together with its 11 updates and bulletins) informed you of the Iranian authorities’ arbitrary proceedings against Mr. Leysanli.
  • Update 10 (Ref: 478/2008 on 13 January 2008) showed how Mr. Leysanli’s formidable personality rebuffed the authority determined to inflict medieval-styled bodily harm by flogging on him.
  • Update 11 (Ref: 488/2008 on 23 March 2008) informed you that the Iranian authorities deported Mr. Leysanli from Eher prison to the central Yazd prison 2000Km away. This also informed you that he had to resort to a hunger strike to safeguard his basic human rights and we provided you with the information on his health condition and the absence of medical care he is faced with.
  • Communication 2 (Ref: 489/2008 on 23 March 2008) provided you with the appropriate information to request your campaign against Court Case 3.
  • The Urgent Action by Amnesty International (MDE 13/050/2008 on 17 March 2008) confirms that Mr. Leysanli is under the risk of being flogged. We fear for the worst and cannot rule out hard-headed Iranian officials with insatiable appetite to inflict bodily harm on Mr. Leysanli.
  • Ongoing Campaign by the Azerbaijani Diaspora is underway for the restoration of human rights of Mr. Leysanli with public demonstrations in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. Table 2 attaches the open letter to the BBC for your information, which draws attention to Mr. Leysanli as “an architect of activism to promote the national rights of Southern Azerbaijan under the banner of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, through a new model combining the passivism of Mahatma Ghandi with the activism of Nelson Mandela.”
  • Table 3 presents excerpts of the statement by Mr. Seyid Mehemmed Rza Feqihi, Mr. Leysanli’s lawyer, who confirms that there is no legal basis for this deportation and he has authoritative statements to challenge the Iranian authorities.

Putting the above facts together, we wish to express our concern for Mr. Leysanli’s safety and health. Our conclusion is that:

  • Mr. Leysanli is in a vulnerable situation and cannot be defended by any means other than your mandates.
  • The Iranian authorities are determined to inflict bodily harm on Mr. Leysanli. Evidently, all the indications show that this is to revenge for Mr. Leysanli’s genius to devise a model of struggle indestructible by the Iranian racially-motivated theological power base.

Never before, the UN mandates have been so much needed to safeguard national and human rights of Mr. Leysanli. We hope you will dispatch your health visitor to examine Mr. Leysanli and seek express and definite guarantees from the Iranian authorities for his safety, personal wellbeing and restoration of his human rights.

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

Yours faithfully,

Boyuk Resuloglu

The Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis

Table 1   Chronologic Overview of the Total Cases Brought By Iranian Authorities Against Mr. Leysanli

Court Case 1:

17 July 2003: He arrived to Babek Hotel, in Keleyber at the outskirt of the Babek Castle on Thursday, 5:00 pm and carried out the annual ceremony in front of a very tightly policed.

25 August 2003: He was forced to a car by security agent around 4:30-5:00 pm; taken to an unknown location; and in parallel with this, his house and business was searched confiscating all his written material in Azerbaijani Turkic, which was an illegal act. He was detained in a solitary confinement in the Ministry of Information, during which he was subjected regularly to interrogations including an hour of physical torture and 2-3 hours of intensive and repeated questionings in each session. He resorted to a hunger strike for 5 days as a protest to these arbitrary acts but was then transferred to Erdebil prison after 20 days. This led to a court case and an arbitrary sentence of 1 year and exile to Masjed- Soleyman in the province pf Khuzestan.

Court Case 2:

22 June 2004: He took part in objecting to a visit by Armenian delegates to the Province of Erdebil. Sought s permit for an assembly but was denied. So a group of 80-100 activists resorted to a hunger strike as a protest in the form of sit-in in the Sarcheshme Mosque, Erdebil. Perceiving the oncoming repression, the protest was represented by 25 activists, asking the youth to leave.

Later at the night some 50-60 security agents raided the mosque with robber sticks; attacked the peaceful protesters; arrested the injured activists; handcuffed and took them to the police cars. Then they locked the doors, turned some of the lights off and attacked Mr. Leysanli with the intent to kill him inflicting the following incredible acts of torture:

·         Tying his hands and feet with a wire cable with an officer jumped and fell on his ribs four times;

·         Kicked him directly in his groin;

·         Proceeded to chock him by standing on his throat

·         Covered his mouth and nose with a blanket to suffocate him

The fainted and lifeless body of Mr. Leysanli was transferred to the office of the Ministry of Information in Erdebil, where he was attacked by a security agent.

Of a one month detention, 20 days were spent in solitary confinement, with severe and life threatening injuries and also during this month-long detention, a combined number of 20 days were spent on hunger strike. He was deprived of:

·         Any medical care for his broken ribs, head, facial bones, fractured arm and feet;

·         Was urinating blood;

·         His left kidney was damaged

·         His left ear was bleeding

·         Both his eyes were swollen and

·         As a result of pulling his lifeless body on the ground, his skin on his back was peeled off with bruises all over

·         His requests for medical care were refused including prison treatments.

On the second of day of the arrest, was taken to the Erdebil court and sentenced to one month detention. The Judge also denied my request to see a doctor and he told the Ettelaat police that if they leaked the news of my injuries or my hunger strike to the public, they would be severely punished.  

All the participants were arbitrarily fined 800,000 Rials and sentenced to 15 floggings. All the activists spent 10 days in detention from whom all, except one, were on a 3-day hunger strike, which resulted in them being released. He could not participate in the Annual Babek Assembly for being detained. 

Court Case 3:

27 June 2005: He was presented with an order from the Justice Department by security gent not to participate in the Annual Babek Castle Assembly and had to present himself to the office of the Ministry of Information in Erdebil the next day. He then rejected them on the grounds that no authority is empowered to remove his right and freedom of association and called this summon as an illegal act on the basis of Article 9 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

28 June 2005: Rejecting the summon, three security agents called in at his house around 12 noon and searched there thoroughly but failed to find anything. This act did not even bother his three children playing in the garden of their house, signifying that the atmosphere of fear created by security agents were being a normal feature of their lives. He headed with his family to Babek Castle at 10 pm even though his house was under usual surveillance. In the following act of cat-and-mouth chasing, he managed to lose them and making his way to the castle.

29 June 2005: Arrived at the Babek Hotel at 7:00 am. In the afternoon, around 5:00 pm, he was kidnapped by a couple of security agents posing as hotel guests. He spent 11 days in Eher prison, where he protested against this illegal detention by resorting to 8 days of hunger strike. This led to another sentence of one year of imprisonment. After his release from this detention, and that of around 50 Azerbaijani activists, celebrated his temporary release at Babek castle. They were again surrounded by the police, attempting to arrest them but a group of locals intervened and rebuffed the police incursion. 

Court Case 4:

He attended the commemoration of the Baghir Khan, an Azerbaijani national hero and a leader of the Constitutional movement to replace monarchical governance. During this event, Azerbaijani activists were savagely attacked by the police with many injured and arrested.

Court Cases 5 and 6

The May 2006 Mass Protests swept throughout Southern Azerbaijan and its participants were some 2 million people from every walk of life it. This orchestrated national protest was a response to an officially sanctioned cartoon published in a daily a State-owned national daily newspaper, called Iran. Its contents were sharply pointed to undermining the national integrity of the Turkic nation of Southern Azerbaijan and any Turk in the world.

Mr. Leysanli, also took part in these protests on 27 May 2006 in his hometown, Erdebil. The charges brought against him were all arbitrary and his trials were held in kangaroo courts. The whole episode showed that the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran are in contempt of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also they demonstrated that “anything goes in Iran” thanks to an underground network of collusions among different bodies of the Iranian authorities.

The mess created by the Iranian authorities against Mr. Leysanli in this episode was two court cases and after their finalization:


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 to one year 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.

The court case is eventful and would require many pages to outline arbitrary acts inflicted by the Iranian authorities against Mr. Leysanli. See our previous communications.




Table 2:    Open Letter by the British Azerbaijani Community to the BBC 


Dear sir/madam


This courtesy communication as an open letter is to inform the BBC management on, and to rally your coverage for, the plight of prisoner of conscience Mr. Abbas Leysanli, a poet and a figurehead activist of Southern Azerbaijan, whose human rights are consistently violated by Iranian authorities.

The overall situation is that the Iranian authorities are pressing some six arbitrary court cases against this peace-loving individual, who wishes to exercise his basic human right of freedom of expression and association within internationally recognised law. In addition, he has never taken a step to break Iranian laws, even though he and his nation are at the sharp end of the body of Iranian legislation and their implementations.

The situation now is that he has completed collectively two prison terms for the two sentences of 18 months for arbitrary charges following the May 2006 Mass Protests. These sweeping protests were a measured response by the nation of Southern Azerbaijan against the State-sponsored racist smears by Iranian media against the integrity of the Turks in general and the nation of Southern Azerbaijan, in particular. The local agents of the Iranian authorities in Southern Azerbaijan were overwhelmed by the formidable personality of Mr. Leysanli and were unable to carry out the heinous act of flogging. The authorities acted in vengeance by deploying their Farsi-speaking loyal forces and deported him from Eher prison, in Southern Azerbaijan, to the central Yazd prison in Farsi-speaking provinces of Iran. According to Amnesty International, this is a move towards flogging him but in reality this is kidnapping a national leader to humiliate him by inflicting medieval-style bodily harm.

The plight of Mr.Leysanli symbolises that of his nation in the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is an architect of activism to promote the national rights of Southern Azerbaijan under the banner of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, through a new model combining the passivism of Mahatma Ghandi with the activism of Nelson Mandela. Iranian authorities are copycats of racist policies of the Pahlavi dynasty, alienating other nations living within their native lands governed by racist “Aryan” visionaries. Owing to the absence of an international intellectual challenge, they implement their fictitious racist claims with the outcome that the 30 million nation of Southern Azerbaijan (also Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis and Qashqays) are suffering from a discriminatory economical / cultural system. Any chance of mutual inclusion has been killed off by creating exclusive privileges for the Farsi-speaking nation using their disinformation and misinformation machinery.

The dismal record of Iranian authorities on violating national and human rights of the nation of Southern Azerbaijan has not been adequately aired from the BBC studios. Your recent coverage of the deportation of Mr. Leysanli was promising but hardly commensurate with sufficiently informing the public with the gravity of the situation. We sideline from attributing your silence to any conspiracy and count on a potential goodwill to cover Southern Azerbaijan without any bias. To this end, we identify possible obstacles:

·         Disinformation by Iranian authorities/opposition; which is broken by Azerbaijani human right activists

·         The infiltration of some pro-Iranian journalists into the BBC obstructing its usual unbiased standards over Southern Azerbaijan; we hope the BBC management will take this as food for thought and not dismiss it

·         Inadequacy of the campaign by the Azerbaijani Diaspora for more active BBC coverage of Southern Azerbaijan; we aim to manage this risk through our democratic rallies on this occasion and similar past ones

Thank you in advance for your care and on behalf of British-Azerbaijani communities, we rally for:

·         A commensurate coverage of Mr. Leysanli, under imminent risk of brutal act of flogging

·         An adequate coverage of the plight of hundreds of Southern Azerbaijani prisoners of conscience

·         A radio program to be devoted to Southern Azerbaijan in Azerbaijani, as implemented by VOA

South Azerbaijan Association (UK) – SAAUK



Table 3:    Excerpts from Mr. Feqihi’s Statements, Mr. Leysanli’s Lawyer

This is not the exact translation but conceptual excerpts

Mr, Feqihi confirms that on 5 March 2008 Mr. Leysanli informed his family by a telephone call from Eher prison to be deported to an unknown location and the following day on 6 March 2008 at 21.00 p.m. he called from Yazd prison to inform his family of the deportation and his place. He has then confirmed to resort to a hunger strike.

Mr. Feqihi is compelled to the analysis of the case as follows.

·                                 According to Clause 230 of Executive Codes Regulating Prisons and the Provisions for Rehabilitation of the Country (conferred in 11 December 2005), every accused or convict shall be kept in the custody of the justice system but may reside in designated detention facilities of professional training centres or prison; but they can only be kept in another place if determined by the court which was responsible for the detention or imprisonment in the first place.

·                                 The sentence issued by the Revolutionary Court in Keleyber specifies a one year punitive sentence and do not specify any other location for the imprisonment and therefore Eher prison is the place for the imprisonment by default.

·                                 The sentence issued by the Revolutionary Court in Keleyber has neither any reference to being exiled to nor compulsory residence in other provinces.

Mr. Feqihi discusses the Clause 233 of the above Code in the following terms:

·                                 According to Clause 233 “In any case, if keeping convicts in the local prison poses threat to the city or the province, the convict may be transferred but subject to the agreement of the Justice Department responsible for the verdict in the first place subject to determining and agreeing on the place for the transfer.”

·                                 We can question and speculate if there was any contact between the prison authorities in East Azerbaijan and Yazd.

·                                 The serious question is that what was the threat by Mr. Leysanli to Eher, Keleyber or the East Azerbaijan province or even what breach of regulation did he commit?

Mr. Feqihi confirms by stating that “I know pretty well that my client’s behaviour was exemplary to the extent that the Prosecutor of Eher Court of Justice and the Governor of Eher prison has signed off day release permits for Mr. Leysanli to visit his family and they had observed no breach of conduct.”

Mr. Feqihi is of the opinion that the sound mind cannot accept that there was a threat to the area posed by the presence of Mr. Leysanli in Eher prison and this has influenced any decision-making. He believes that the whole episode took place under such a circumstance that the law of land was breached. He states that Sub-clause 1 of Clause 234 of the same legal Code states:

·                                             “the organisation must adopt a procedure that the request of the convicts is met in relation to be kept in the nearest prison to their place of normal residence. It is clear that the Justice Department shall ensure that such requests are met.”

Mr. Feqihi states that: not only imprisonment in Erdebil has been denied for Mr. Leysanli, there is even no tolerance for his imprisonment in Eher (100 km from Erdebil) but he has been transferred to a remote point creating obstacle for his families visit.

Mr Feqihi asks: “as envisaged in Clause 237 of the above legal Code, should we not spend our efforts and determination to ensure the wellbeing of the families and their coherence as per duties of rehabilitation centres or are they mere words and empty promises in the form of law?”

Mr. Feqihi expresses his puzzlement and asks: “why we insist to maintain the initiatives on unworthy acts and keep inventing unlawful procedures and instead of being magnanimous towards prisoners acts timidly and disgracefully?”

Mr. Feqihi recommends that the Justice system reaffirms Clause 233 and prevents such breaches. He refers to the Honourable Head of the Ministry of Justice requesting the reinstatement of justice for prisoners including Mr. Abbas Leysanli.

The source text was issued by Mr. Seyid Mehemmed Rza Feqihi, the chartered lawyer of the Ministry of Justice and the Director of the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights

Note: Mr. Feqihi uses Lisani but we used Leysanli to remain consistent with our text.

The Source Document on the Statement by Mr. Feqihi, Mr. Leysanli’s Lawyer


The Farsi text mixes up when copied and pasted. For the correct text, please use the link.


سخنی با ریاست قوۀ قضائیه

سید محمدرضا فقیهی-وکیل دادگستری و دبیر کمیتۀ حقوقی انجمن دفاع از حقوق زندانیان
چهارشنبه مورخ 15 اسفند 1386، آقای عباس لسانی فعال هویت‌طلب آذربایجانی در تماسی تلفنی از زندان شهرستان اهر، خانواده‌اش را از تصمیم مأموران به انتقال وی به مقصدی نامعلوم مطلع می‌سازد. پنجشنبه مورخ 16 اسفند 1386 حوالی ساعت 21، هنگامی که زنگ تلفن منزل آقای لسانی به صدا درمی‌آید، خانواده‌اش در می‌یابند که او به زندان یزد انتقال یافته و موکل قاطعانه اعلام می‌دارد در اعتراض به این اقدام مقامات قضائی و امنیتی دست به اعتصاب غذا زده و اعتصابش را تا سرحد مرگ ادامه خواهدداد. به راستی انتقال زندانی یادشده از زندان اهر واقع در استان آذربایجان‌شرقی به زندان یزد واقع در استان یزد براساس چه توجیه و منطقی صورت پذیرفته‌است؟

ناگزیر از تحلیل حقوقی این واقعه هستیم. مطابق مادۀ 230 آئین‌نامۀ اجرائی سازمان زندان‌ها و اقدامات تأمینی و تربیتی کشور مصوب 20 آذر 1384، هر متهم یا محکوم در بازداشتگاه مراکز حرفه‌آموزی و اشتغال و زندانی که در حوزۀ قضائی صادر‌کننده قرار یا حکم قرار دارد نگهداری می‌شود مگر در مواردی که دادگاه صادرکنندۀ حکم براساس قانون، محل دیگری را برای تحمل کیفر تعیین نماید. لذا اصل، نگاهداری متهم یا محکوم در بازداشتگاه یا زندان واقع در حوزۀ قضائی صادرکنندۀ قرار یا حکم است مگر آنکه مرجع قضائی صادرکنندۀ قرار یا حکم، وفق قانون مکان دیگری را برای نگاهداری زندانی تعیین کرده‌باشد. در مانحن‌فیه، دادگاه انقلاب اسلامی شهرستان کلیبر در حکم یکسال حبس تعزیری صادره علیه آقای لسانی، هیچ اشاره‌ای به زندان واقع در سایر حوزه‌های قضائی بعنوان محلی که نامبرده باید در آنجا تحمل کیفر نماید، نکرده‌بود. مجازات تبعید و یا اقامت اجباری در سایر استانها یا شهرستانها نیز همراه با کیفر حبس، مورد لحوق حکم محکمۀ انقلاب کلیبر قرارنگرفته‌بود تا چنین انتقالی را در چارچوب آن ارزیابی نمائیم. اینطور به نظر می‌رسد انتقال مورد بحث براساس مادۀ 233 آئین‌نامۀ اجرائی فوق‌الاشاره صورت گرفته‌باشد آنجا که مرجع وضع آئین‌نامه مقررداشته:

«در هر مورد که نگهداری محکومان در زندان محلی مخالف مصالح آن شهرستان یا استان باشد، با موافقت مقام‌های قضائی مربوط و تعیین محل انتقال به وسیلۀ ادراۀ کل زندانها با جلب نظر شورای طبقه‌بندی و موافقت دادستان، محکوم منتقل می‌شود

به قرار اطلاع آنانی که حضور موکل در زندان شهرستان اهر و استان آذربایجان‌شرقی را برنمی‌تابیده‌اند، با مستمسک قراردادن عنصر مصلحت و با این توجیه که ماندن عباس لسانی در زندان اهر برخلاف مصالح امنیتی آن شهرستان و حتی استان آذربایجان‌شرقی است، با طرح موضوع در شورای تأمین استان یا شهرستان و شاید هم بدون طرح قضیه در آن شورا، موفق به جلب نظر مقامات قضائی ذیربط و مدیران کل سازمان زندان‌ها و اقدامات تأمینی و تربیتی استان آذربایجان‌شرقی و یزد و شورای طبقه‌بندی زندان اهر و دادستان عمومی و انقلاب کلیبر شده و نسبت به انتقال زندانی مورد اشاره به یزد اقدام نموده‌اند.

حال پرسش جدی در همین راستا این است که مگر عباس لسانی کدامین اقدام مغایر امنیت استان آذربایجان‌شرقی و شهرستان اهر و یا کدامین تخلف انضباطی را مرتکب گردیده که مستحق چنین برخوردی دانسته‌شده‌است؟

اطلاع واثق دارم که بجهت حُسن رفتار موکل در زندان اهر، رئیس زندان مذکور و شورای طبقه‌بندی آن زندان و حتی دادستان اهر با درخواست مرخصی مشارالیه موافقت داشته و هیچ تخلفی را از وی مشاهده و گزارش نکرده‌بودند.

آیا به‌راستی یک زندانی در پشت میله‌های زندان از چنان قدرتی برخوردار است که بنحو بالقوه امنیت استان و شهرستان محل گذران دوران محکومیتش را به مخاطره انداخته‌است؟

بنابراین ذهن نمی‌پذیرد به صرف ادعای برخی از مقامات قضائی و یا امنیتی مبنی بر تهدید امنیت حوزۀ قضائی مربوط از ناحیۀ زندانی مذکور، بتوان چنین تصمیماتی اتخاذ و به مرحلۀ اجراء درآورد و هر اقدام حقوقی و قانونی، پایه و اساس استوار و محکم و محکمه‌پسند لازم دارد. از طرف دیگر، انتقال موکل از زندان اهر به زندان یزد در شرائطی صورت می‌گیرد که ظاهراً مقامات ذیمدخل در قضیه به منطوق تبصرۀ یک مادۀ 234 آئین‌نامۀ سازمان زندانها و اقدامات تأمینی و تربیتی کشور اعتنا و توجهی نداشته‌اند آنجا که تبصرۀ مزبور مقرر می‌دارد:

«سازمان باید ترتیبی اتخاذ نماید که محکومان با درخواست شخصی، در نزدیکترین زندان محل سکونت خانوادۀ خود تحمل کیفر نمایند. بدیهی‌است مراجع قضائی نیز در این مورد اقدامات لازم را برای اعطای نیابت قضائی، معمول خواهندداشت

یعنی نه تنها اجازه داده‌نشده که زندانی، عباس لسانی، در نزدیکترین زندان محل سکونت خانواده‌اش (زندان اردبیل) تحمل حبس نماید، بلکه حضور وی در زندان اهر نیز تحمل نشده و او را به جائی منتقل کرده‌اند که خانواده‌اش برای دیدار با وی ناگزیر از طی مسافتی افزون از 1300 کیلومتر راه هستند.

آیا کوشش و اهتمام در حفظ روابط و علائق خانوادگی زندانی که در مادۀ 237 آئین‌نامۀ پیش‌گفته، در زمرۀ وظائف سازمان زندانها و اقدامات تأمینی و تربیتی کشور و مددکاران آن سازمان قرارداده‌شده، صرفاً سخنی و شعاری بیش نیست یا اینکه تکلیفی قانونی است؟


سید محمدرضا فقیهی
وکیل دادگستری و دبیر کمیتۀ حقوقی انجمن دفاع از حقوق زندانیان 


Azərbaijani Turkic

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