The Problem of Southern Azerbaijan

 

No.: 498/ 2008

Date: 2 August  2008

The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva

Please circulate this letter to the following:

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

·         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, and

·         Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges

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

Also:    Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Server

Dear sir/madam, 

GENERAL COMMUNICATION 3  RECENT ESCALATION OF REPRESSIONS BY IRANIAN AUTHOIRITIES IN SOUTHERN AZERBAIJAN

Please find enclosed General Communication 3 concerning repressions inflicted recently by the Iranian authorities against Southern Azerbaijani students. Although the backlog of our information to be sent to you goes back until January 2008, we have to give a priority to recent events. The following information is provided:

Table 1  presents an outline of the information on the recently detained students; and

Table 2  present the translation of a letter by the parents of one of the victims named in Table 1.

Under the pretext of “authority”, the Islamic Republic of Iran denies the national and human rights of all none Farsi-speaking nations and on this ground the national and human rights of the 30 million Southern Azerbaijanis have been continually violated including the basic right of education in the mother language. The facts presented in this Communication shows that Iranian authorities even politicises customs and traditions of Southern Azerbaijanis. For instance, the information presented in the case of Mr. Vedud Esedi clearly shows that the Iranian authorities reacted to the decorative colours on their wedding cake and this reaches to the extent that the authorities are persecuting on the various grounds including singing songs and speaking in mother language during the wedding ceremony.

The recent events clearly show that, there is no law-and-order and a sense of security among Southern Azerbaijanis inflicted by the aggressive operations by security agents, particularly those directed against the students. The ongoing situation has created fear among the intelligentsia. Repression in this scale has reached a new dimension and thus the Iranian authorities are appeased by the silence of international human rights organisations and libertarian individuals.

The defence of the individuals named in this Communication can only be achieved by mandates entrusted to you and we thank you in advance for your attention and subsequent actions.

Yours faithfully,

Mr. Eli Tashkent

The Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis

Table 1   Southern Azerbaijan Students Persecuted by Iranian Authorities –

               Sources: our own sources, ASMEK, Savalansesi and Haqqimiz

Zengan

Aresh Rayeji

·         A student in Zengan University

·         Arrested and detained (no exact information)

·         There is no information on the charges brought by the Iranian authorities against him

·         The pre-text for his detention is attributed to sit-in protests related to an attempted rape of an official of Zengan University, in Southern Azerbaijan, against a female student. In an effort to cover up the scandal, the security agents are prosecuting the defenders of the victim and harbouring culprit official of the university. The culprit has now been released.

Hesen Juneydi

·         A student in Zengan University

·         Arrested and detained (no exact information)

·         There is no information on the charges brought by the Iranian authorities against him

·         The pre-text for his detention is attributed to sit-in protests related to an attempted rape of an official of Zengan University, in Southern Azerbaijan, against a female student. In an effort to cover up the scandal, the security agents are prosecuting the defenders of the victim and harbouring culprit official of the university. The culprit has now been released.

Peyam Shekiba

·         A student in Zengan University

·         Arrested and detained (no exact information)

·         There is no information on the charges brought by the Iranian authorities against him

·         The pre-text for his detention is attributed to sit-in protests related to an attempted rape of an official of Zengan University, in Southern Azerbaijan, against a female student. In an effort to cover up the scandal, the security agents are prosecuting the defenders of the victim and harbouring culprit official of the university. The culprit has now been released.

Urmu

 

Ilahe Radmehr

·         She is the sister of Sejjad Radmehr, a prisoner of conscience whose case details are presented below, and a student of Urmia University.

·         She was summoned to the disciplinary committee of Urmu University and was threatened with expulsion if she publicises her brother’s case.

Tebriz

Aydin Khajeyi (m), aged 23

·         Arrested together with Sejjad Radmehr and Dariyush Hatemi on 17 June 2008.

·         He was also supporting Sejjad Radmehr during a previous sit-in protest.

·         Other than a short telephone call to their families, there is no information on his whereabouts

·         A student reading law and a member of the Islamic Society of Tebriz University at the faculty of social sciences.

·         He was barred for a year for taking part in the May 2006 sit-in protests.

Dariyush Hatemi (m), aged 29

·         Arrested together with Aydin Khajei and Sejjad Radmehr on 17 June 2008.

·         A national duty officer in the army.

·         There is no confirmed information on whereabouts.

·         The charges brought against him are unknown.

Eli Ebdullah-zade

·         Was arrested on 22 July 2008 and has been detained since then

·         There is no information on the charges brought by the Iranian authorities against him

·         The pre-text for his detention is attributed to a hunger strike and a sit-in protest related to an attempted rape of an official guard in the Sehend University, Tebriz, against a female student, although the university authorities have admittedly the incident and promised to take action against the known culprit. It appears that the defenders of the victim are punished for their good deeds by the security agents and the culprit is harboured by the university authority.

Feraz Zehtab (m), aged 23

·         Arrested together with Aydin Khajei and Sejjad Radmehr on 17 June 2008.

·         Other than a short telephone call to their families, there is no information on his whereabouts

·         His mother stated in her telephone call to Radio Ferda that “the authorities do not give us straight answers. When I make enquiries to the prison judiciary authorities, they say that they do not know. I make enquiries to security agents in the Ministry of Information, there is no response. I have no idea where my son is. I have just heard his voice once.”

·         A student reading law and a member of the Islamic Society of Tebriz University at the faculty of social sciences.

·         Supported Sejjad Radmehr during the sit-in protests.

·         Was barred for a year for taking part in the May 2006 sit-in protests.

Hemid Valai (m) aged 27

See also Table 2

·         An activist for the rights of Azerbaijanis,

·         Detained on Tuesday 15 June 2008 at the interrogation unit of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz after being summoned there earlier.

·         Since then his family members are unaware of his whereabouts and their full efforts on enquiring some information through the judiciary and security authorities have remained unanswered but instead they have been reportedly threatened not to publicise the case.

·         His health is very concerning, and authentic sources have stated that he had lost conscientiousness under severe physical and mental torture. 

·         He is a university graduate of law and an associate of the Association of Southern Azerbaijani Academics, also active on defending and researching into ethnic rights.

·         His articles have been published in a host of Azerbaijani students’ publication as well as in Dilmaj, which was banned recently by the authorities.

·         Although has passed professional exams for the membership of judiciary lawyers, he was barred from the membership by the intervention of the Ministry of Information for his activities on ethnic issues.

·         Note: This victim was temporarily released on Thursday 31 July 2008 for medical treatment after being tortured. We endeavour to write a communication for his case.

Peyman Qulami

·         Was arrested on 22 July 2008 and has been detained since then.

·         There is no information on the charges brought by the Iranian authorities against him

·         The pre-text for his detention is attributed to a hunger strike and a sit-in protest related to an attempted rape of an official guard in the Sehend University, Tebriz, against a female student, although the university authorities have admittedly the incident and promised to take action against the known culprit. It appears that the defenders of the victim are punished for their good deeds by the security agents and the culprit is harboured by the university authority.

 

Qulamrza Nejefi (m), aged 36

·         Was arrested in his workplace in Tebriz around the lunchtime on 5 June 2008.

·         One of the charges brought against him relates to a number of students’ publication issued under licence, which were found during the searches of his workplace at the time of the arrest.

·         Security agents then searched his house but without a court warrant and confiscated his personal belongings, including a computer, books CDs and posters.

·         After being unaware of his whereabouts for 15 days, his family recently learned that he has been transferred to Tebriz prison, the wing on bankrupts and fraudsters.

·         His family members have been unable to gain access to visit him and unaware of the charges brought against him.

·         Along with increasing pressure on him, his shop in Rasta Bazar, Tebriz, was shut down under seal despite having a valid licence for his shop and business and the Nejefi family believe that the shutdown was effected by the office of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz.

Sejjad Radmehr (m), aged 26

·         Was arrested in front of the entry door of Tebriz University by security agents together with Feraz Zehtab and Aydin Khajei.

·         An M.Sc. student on mechanical engineering.

·         He was taken to an undisclosed location and so far there is no information on his whereabouts other than a short telephone call.

·         He was leaving the Sejjad Radmehr’s viva when arrested.

·         After the arrest, security agents searched his house.

·         Apparently, the reason for his detention was a sit-in protest on 11 May 2008, protesting against the authorities in Tebriz University for the proceeding of his viva. His viva was cancelled several times by the university authorities, leaving him no choice other than for a sit-in protest and a hunger strike.

·         Following this, the authority in Tebriz University summoned him and barred him for a term from education. 

·         He is still in detention incommunicado without indictment and have been denied of access to a lawyer.

·         His sister Ilahe Radmehr, a student of Urmu University was summoned to the disciplinary committee of Urmu University and was threatened with expulsion if she publicises her brother’s case.

·         Generally, there is no specific charge brought against him.

Shahrukh Hatemi (m), aged 27

·         A dentistry student in Turkey, was also arrested by security agents in the morning on 17 June 2008 at their home in Tebriz.

·         There is no confirmed information on his whereabouts.

·         The charges brought against him are unknown.

 

Resht

Vedud Esedi (m), aged 28

 

·         He was arrested in Rasht in his house in the morning on 23 June 2008.

·         His sister, Semiyye Esedi, stated to Radio Liberty, the Azerbaijani service, that four security agents entered the house and searched all the rooms in the house. They detained Vedud and confiscated his computer, a number of CDs, books, handwritings, photo album, wedding video.

·         Since then the efforts of his family members have been reportedly in vain to determine his exact whereabouts but a reliable source has indicated that he has probably been transferred to Wing 209 of Evin prison in Tehran without expressing any knowledge of the charges brought against him.

·         The arrest is possibly attributed to the method of his wedding ceremony, as the colour decorations on his wedding cake happens to coincide with the three colours in the national flag of Azerbaijan. Also, during the wedding ceremonies, songs were Azerbaijani national folk songs.

·         His sister stated that “we are not separatists but under no circumstances we will give up our humanitarian demands for the freedom of our mother language (Azerbaijani Turkic).”

·         He is a student reading geology in the Open University in Rasht.

·         Prior to this, he was a student in the Open University in Erdebil, where he was the General Secretary of the Islamic Student Society and the director of the students’ publication, Seher

·         He was also detained in Tebriz following his participations in the widespread May 2006 protests and was freed after three months of detentions in the detention units of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz and Erdebil without indictment. He was then tortured during the detention.


 

Table 2 The translation of the Letter by Hemid Valai’s Father to the Minster of Justice in Iran

In the name of the Almighty God

The Honourable Chief of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi,

I would respectfully like to bring to your attention that my son, Hemid Valai, was summoned to present himself to the office of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz by repeated by telephone calls and direct calls of security agents to our home. I personally accompanied him to the said office on 16 July 2008, where after preliminary interrogations he was put under detention.  As a graduate of Faculty of Law, Hemid has written many articles on legal and social topics. Also, despite his success in professional examinations for lawyers, he was branded as unsuitable to practice in legal profession by orders from the Ministry of Information.

Following his detention, all attempts by our family members, including myself, were in vain to learn of his whereabouts and the charges brought against him. One exception was that, a very brief telephone contact was made by him on 18 July 2008 in which, we only managed to ask him how he generally felt since the arrest.

In spite of our repeated attendance to the enquiry section of the office of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz asking for clear information, no steps were taken by the officials, in a background where the time passed day-by-day but we remained unaware of Hemid’s mental and physical state and of the charges brought against him, as well as we kept reading very worrying information about him in the Internet.

The Honourable Chief of the Judiciary,

In accordance with Article 3 of Citizenship Rights which clearly states “no one will be arbitrarily charged without adequate reasons and proper indictment,” we hold that there ought to be avoidance of the detention of the individuals, especially when there is insufficient information and no charges. Therefore, how can it be explained that the office of the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Justice, which is under your control, have avoided the indictment of my son and kept me and our lawyer in dark? Is not obvious that as the security agents have no grounds and evidence for arresting the accused, but they are putting him under pressure in order to force him to confess to things that he has not committed and arbitrarily make a court case against him?

In accordance with the law of “Respecting Legitimate Freedoms of the Citizen” conferred on 5 May 2003 and Ratified by the Council of Protectors on 6 May 2004, any form of torture for obtaining information from the accused is illegal and therefore, the confessions obtained by such methods are void both on legal and religious grounds. However, regrettably according to the information received from reliable sources, now we know that at least in this occasion Hemid lost consciousness under physical and mental torture. We hold that, disallowing us to visit him was indicative of the severity of his physical condition inflicted by torture. Furthermore, as Hemid personally turned himself in to the custody of the office of the Ministry of Information while accompanied by myself, we hold this office fully responsible for his safety, be it mental or physical. Thus we hold that we will raise complaints to both authorities in the country and to international authorities, should anything happen to him.

During our meeting with the Prosecutor and his assistant in Tebriz, on the one hand he did not take any steps towards our concern and stated that, Hemid`s dossier did not contain any charges brought against him, but on the other hand he stated that: Hemid is not cooperating with security agents! If in the opinion of the above mentioned gentlemen, not cooperating with the agents means forcing to confess to things not committed by him, then this explains that the emerging news that he is under torture leading even to the loss of consciousness. Mr Shahrudi, this kind of investigation and forming dossier (or court cases) is illegal and void in accordance with international laws, the legal system in the country, Universal Human Rights Declarations, the law of Respecting Legitimate Freedoms of the Citizen and finally, according to your byelaws on  Citizens Rights.

The honourable Chief of the Judiciary, during last few days we were contacted by international and human rights organisations and foreign medias to participate in interviews which we have rejected as we were hoping that the usual procedures will come to an end and Hemid will be freed. But unfortunately and as we expected, the present situation proves otherwise. Therefore, we would like to request you to order the termination of the illegal procedures of the dossier and release immediately Hemid Valai from your arbitrary treatments, who always have been a law abiding citizen.  Clearly should this situation continue, particularly if we remain unaware of his mental and physical state, we will have no option but to participate in interviews and contact international organisations.

Yours sincerely

Family of Hamid Valai

28 July 2008

 

Table 2   The Letter by Hemid Valai’s Father to the Minster of Justice in Iran

Source: widely published including: http://www.savalansesi.com/2008/07/blog-post_2586.html

بسمه تعالی
ریاست محترم قوه قضائیه - جناب آقای آیت ا... شاهرودی

با سلام،

احتراماً به استحضار می رساند که فرزند اینجانب به نام حمید والایی، فارغ التحصیل رشته حقوق، نویسنده مقالات حقوقی و اجتماعی که علیرغم قبولی در آزمون وکلا، از سوی ارگان های اطلاعاتی رد صلاحیت گردیده بود، در پی احضار های تلفنی و مراجعات حضوری مأموران اطلاعات آذربایجان شرقی(تبریز) روز سه شنبه مورخه 25/4/1387 به همراه بنده(پدرش) به ستاد خبری وزارت اطلاعات مراجعه و پس از بازجویی های اولیه بازداشت گردید. در پی بازداشت وی مراجعات خانواده جهت مشخص شدن محل نگهداری و اتهام وارده وقعی ننهاد و تنها در روز پنجشنبه 27/4/1387 از طرف حمید تماس تلفنی کوتاهی برقرار گردید که تنها در حد احوالپرسی معمولی بود.

با گذشت زمان و مشخص نشدن وضعیت جسمی و روحی، محل نگهداری، اتهام وارده و همچنین درج اخبار ناگوار و نگران کننده در سایتهای اینترنتی، عدم تماس تلفنی در طول ده روز گذشته از تماس اول، خانواده به دفعات مکرر با مراجعه حضوری به همراه وکیل به ستاد خبری وزارت اطلاعات و دادگستری تبریز و مذاکرات و گفتگوی مفصل با بازپرس و معاون دادستان تبریز خواستار مشخص شدن وضعیت گردیدند که متأسفانه تاکنون هیچ اقدام عملی در این خصوص صورت نگرفته است.

ریاست محترم قوه قضائیه:

- براساس بخشنامه سوم حقوق شهروندی جنابعالب، باید از جلب و اعزام تحت الحفظ متهم بدون تفهیم اتهام خودداری گردد و از جلب و احضار افراد، بدون توجه به اتهام و دلایل کافی پرهیز بعمل آید. پس چگونه است اداره اطلاعات تبریز و دادگستری تحت مدیریت جنابعالی از اعلام اتهام فرزند بنده به خانواده و وکیل وی اجتناب می ورزند؟ نه اینست که آقایان هیچ مدرک اتهامی علیه وی ندارند و تنها قصد دارند با تحت فشار قرار دادن وی و وادار کردن به اعتراف به کارهای انجام نداده پرونده سازی نمایند!

- بر اساس قانون «احترام به آزادیهای مشروع و حقوق شهروندی» مصوبه 15/2/1383 مجلس که در تاریخ 16/2/1383 مورد تأیید شورای نگهبان قرار گرفته است، هرگونه شکنجه بمنظئر اخذ اقرار و یا اجبار متهم به امور دیگر ممنوع بوده و اقرارهای اخذ شده بدینوسیله حجیت شرعی و قانونی ندارد. اما متأسفانه اطلاعات موثق رسیده به دست ما حکایت از آن دارد که حداقل حمید یکبار بر اثر شکنجه های جسمی و روحی بیهوش شده است و از نظر ما عدم صدور اجازه برقراری تماس وی با خانواده حاکی از وخیم بودن وضعیت وی دارد. از آنجا که حمید به همراه پدرش داوطلبانه خود را به ستاد خبری اطلاعات معرفی کرده است، ما این اداره را مسئول حفظ جان و روان وی می دانیم و در صورت بروز هر اتفاق بر علیه آن شکایت خود را به مراجع قانونی داخلی و بین المللی تسلیم خواهیم کرد.

- بازپرس و معاون دادستان ابریز طی گفتگوهای حضوری با خانواده ضمن عدم پیگیری و بررسی آخرین وضعیت جسمی و روحی حمید، با بیان خالی بودن پرونده از موارد اتهامی، اعلام کردند وی با مأموران امنیتی همکاری نمی کند! اگر منظور آقایان از همکاری اعتراف به فعل انجام نشدهاز سوی وی و یا افراد دیگر است، می توان دلیل تحت فشار جسمی و روحی بودن حمید و در نهایت بیهوش شدن وی را براحتی فهمید. اقای شاهرودی بر اساس موازین بین المللی، قوانین کشور، اعلامیه جهانی حقوق بشر، قانون احترام به آزادیهای مشروع و حقوق شهروندی و در نهایت بخشنامه حقوق شهروندی جنابعالی این شیوه بازجویی و تکمیل پرونده محکوم و غیرقانونی بوده و هیچ اعتباری ندارد.

ریاست محترم قوه قضائیه، طی روزهای گذشته تماس های مستقیم و غیر مستقیم زیادی با خانواده از سوی مراجع بین المللی، مدافع حقوق بشر و رسانه های خارجی جهت انجام مصاحبه صورت گرفته است که از قول آنها سرباز زده ایم تا بلکه روند بررسی پرونده خالی از اتهام فوراً خاتمه یابد و حمید آزاد گردد. متأسفانه روند حاضر عکس آن چیزی است که ما انتظار آنرا داشتیم. از اینرو از جنابعالی تقاضا داریم ضمن صدور دستور توقف روند غیر قانونی بازجویی، مقدمات آزادی حمید والایی بعنوان فردی که بعلت اشراف به قوانین از هرگونه بی قانونی دوری می جست، فراهم آورید. طبیعیست در صورت ادامه این روند بویژه بی خبری مطلق از وضعیت جسمی و روحی وی ناگزیر بهمصاحبهو پیگیری وضعیت از طریق مجامع بین المللی خواهیم بود.

تشکر


خانواده حمید والایی

6/5/1387

 

Azərbaijani Turkic

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