The Problem of Southern Azerbaijan

 

No.: 499/2008

Date: 5 August  2008

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 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      Mrs. Harrison, Amnesty International, London

 

Also:    Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Server

 

S. Azerbaijani human right defender/lawyer: Hemid Valayi

Hemid Valayi temporarily released after being tortured

Dear sir/madam

COMMUNICATION 1: THE CASE OF HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDER, MR. HEMID VALAYI

Please find enclosed Communication 1 for the defence of human rights of Mr. Hemid Valayi, who is a Southern Azerbaijani lawyer and a human rights defender and was detained arbitrarily and tortured 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 confirmed and published information; and

Table 2:  The translation of a letter written by his father to the Iranian Minister of Justice, campaigning for justice to his son.

Mr. Valayi was arrested on 16 July 2008 and was released temporarily on 28 July 2008 for medical treatment following physical and mental torture that he was subjected to by the Iranian authorities. The past experience shows that these temporary releases in Iran does not mean much as the victims are gagged when they are arrested once through an indefinite series of trials and detentions.

We would like to stress that in compiling this Communication, we have not consulted with Mr. Valayi, his family or his lawyer. They may raise a complaint as indicated in Table 2 but our action purely stems from our duty of care. This statement is necessary to manage the risk of reprisal by the Iranian authorities.

Mr. Valayi is only one of Southern Azerbaijani students/academics who suffered an ongoing wave of repression. The reinstatement of his human rights is only possible through your campaign. Thank you in advance for your care.

Yours faithfully,

Mr. Eli Tashkent

The Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis

Table 1           Communication on Mr. Hemid Valayi

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

          Hemid Valai (His name may be transcribed by the Farsi style, as Hamid, in the Arabic script it is:  حمید والایی)

1.2       Age

          27 years old

1.3       Sex

          Male

1.4       Profession or occupation

          A graduate lawyer and active human rights defender

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

          The Southern Azerbaijani city of Tebriz, East Azerbaijan, Iran

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

          There is no information on the victim’s specific affiliations. In general, any organisation in Iran not sanctioned by “Hezbollah” is prosecuted in many ways. We therefore assume that the victim is not affiliated to any organisation. However professionally, the victim had passed his professional examinations to become a qualified and registered lawyer but he was disallowed to do so by the intervention of the Ministry of Information, see Table 2

1.6.1    Name of the organization, association or group

Please 1.6

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

            See 1.6

1.6.3    Nature of human rights work the individual performs

1. He is a lawyer and defends human rights

2. He is a writer with outspoken view on the national rights of Southern Azerbaijan

1.7       If the alleged violation is against an organization:

           -

1.7.1    Name of the organization

          He is known to contribute to “Abtam” (abbreviation of Azerbaijani expression translated as Research Centre of the Association of Azerbaijani Academics), which promote democracy and pluralism in politics (for more information please refer to http://www.abtam.blogfa.com/ for their electronic publications. He is also the legal consultant of the Association of (Southern) Azerbaijani Academics.

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

          The victim is known to publish articles on the various issues related to the defence of ethnic rights.


 

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

           Being concerned with human and ethnic rights, the scope of his activities cover the whole of Southern Azerbaijan.

1.7.4    Affiliations with other human rights organizations, if any

Not known to us.

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.

Not Applicable

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:

            According to the evidence detailed in Table 2, there is no indictment and no charge have been brought against the victim.

2.1       Date

          Wednesday 16 July 2008

2.2       Place

Tebriz

2.3       Description of the events/incident

The victim’s father has written an open letter to the Iranian Minister of Justice, explaining his the way his son was arrested. In his words: “ Hemid Valayi, 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.” 

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 a lawyer defending human rights of Azerbaijanis. There is no indictment and no charges brought against him. Yet he has suffered a terrible torture and now that he has been temporarily released for a medical treatment, we know his ordeal included:

·         The ordeal took 13 days

·         Four of his teeth have been broken

·         His right foot broken and could not move

·         He had lost consciousness several times and would feel severe dizziness.

·         He was hospitalised in the medical unit of Tebriz prison but temporarily released on 28 July 2008.

The order of torture was inflicted on the grounds of the victim’s human right defences of Southern Azerbaijan.

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:

          In general, during July the Iranian authorities have made a move against Southern Azerbaijani students and escalated their suppression to repression. This victim is not alone and the others have been covered in our General Communication (Ref: 498/2008 on 2 August 2008).

 

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

          The letter of the victim’s father presented in Table 2 is specific that the authority involved is the office of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz.

2.7       Date and place of arrest

This took place on Wednesday 16 July 2008, when the victim introduced himself to the office of the Ministry of Information in Tebriz in the presence of his father.

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

          Under the repressive regime created by the Iranian authorities, such details would not be available, other monitoring their repressive acts, as outlined in Section 2.5.

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

          The victim’s father’s letter to the Iranian Minister of Justice is very specific on this stating that: “ 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?”

           

2.10     Potential penalties the individual or group faces

          The precedence is that the colluding authorities have a free hand and they can impose harsh jail terms from a few months to a few years and as a reflection of their racist policies, their sentences include flogging to humiliate the Southern Azerbaijani advocates of the national movement.

2.11     Place of detention, if known

          The place of the detention was not known, although he is temporarily released for medical treatments subsequent to suffering during the torture.

2.12     Term of detention

            -

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

          Although the victim is a lawyer and his father has appointed a lawyer to defend the victim, the colluding Iranian authorities normally render the lawyers ineffective.

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

          As detailed in Table 2, the victim’s father has taken every possible step to defend his son but in vain. The problem is that the Ministry of Justice in Iran collude with the Ministry of Information and independent justice in Iran is virtually non-existent.

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:

          The defender has been temporarily released. It appears that the Iranian authorities are building up an arbitrary court case against the victim and this is their normal procedure for gagging Southern Azerbaijani human right defenders.

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 or national and human rights of Southern Azerbaijanis. So all the perpetrators are harboured dearly by the 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

          The letter of the Victim’s father elicits the legal situation in the clearest terms and clearly demonstrates that the family members have taken every possible step and they intend to lodge a compliant to international organisations if their voice is not heard. In the event, it looks that their voice were not heard but the victim was temporarily released due to severely suffering torture.

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

           Please see Table 2, which presents the translation of the letter of the victim’s father to the Ministry of Justice.

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 Section is not really relevant in Iran when the victims are promoting 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, 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

Some background to this is given in our General Communication 3 (Ref:498/2008 on 2 August 2008).

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

          As the Iranian authorities are implementing racist-religious policies, any dissident voice is treated with suspicion and when the dissident defends the national/ethnic rights of Southern Azerbaijan, the Iranian authority has an array of measure to liquidate the individuals or the group of individuals or an organisation.  The measure will first appear in the form of widespread prejudice directed against the individual. For instance, if someone shows any allegiance towards mother tongue, this will be seen as a sure sign of separatism and be treated in contempt. This is in background that there is no single classroom in our mother language and the nation 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. Any Azerbaijani individual also suffers due to:

·         Impoverished economy of Southern Azerbaijan undermining its very integrity,

·         The deterioration of the environment of Southern Azerbaijan, where the Iranian authorities regard our homelands as their backyard;

·         They are balkanising Azerbaijan and undermining its territorial integrity.

 

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, shutting down businesses under the official seal, removing professional affiliation (as the case is for this victim), gagging human right defenders by arbitrarily making court cases and issuing suspended sentences.     

 

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 and therefore not much hope for any outcome.

 

Name and full address:

Mr. Eli Tashkent,

Ayna, Sherifzade 1,

Baki,

The Republic of Azerbaijan

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

Email: info@dunazhak.net

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Table 3

 

 

Azərbaijani Turkic

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