The Problem of Southern Azerbaijan
No.: 500/ 2008
Date: 6 August 2008
The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva
Please circulate this to
Working Group on arbitrary detention;
it is also of relevance to:
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
CC Mr Dyke and Mrs. Harrison, Amnesty
Also: Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Server
COMMUNICATION 1 CAMPAIGNING FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OF
HUMAN RIGHTS OF MR. VEDUD ESEDI
Please find enclosed Communication 1 for safeguarding
human rights of Mr. Vedud Esedi, a Southern Azerbaijani student reading
geology, who has been deprived of his liberty by Iranian authorities. The
following information is provided:
Table 1 The
Communication form for the
Working Group on arbitrary detention, using
confirmed and published information; and
Table 2 Presents a
transcript of the interview by MR. Esedi’s wife and sister given to Radio
The arbitrary treatment of Mr. Esedi by Iranian
authorities is summarised as follows:
He was arrested on 22 July 2008 and approximately
after 2 weeks he was transferred to the notorious Evin prison, in
Tehran, as confirmed by a reliable source.
To date, he ha not been indicted; no charges have
been brought against him; he has no access to a lawyer; and if it was
not due to a reliable source, his whereabouts would have been unknown.
We fear for his safety, as he was tortured by Iranian
authorities in the past when he was arbitrarily detained earlier in
Tebriz and Erdebil for three months without indictment for his
participations in the May 2006 Mass Protests.
When he was a University student in Erdebil, he was
the General Secretary of the Islamic Student Society and the director of
the students’ publication, Seher but was banned after a few
like to stress that in compiling this Communication, we have not consulted
with Mr. Esedi, his family or his lawyer. This statement is necessary to
manage the risk of reprisal by the Iranian authorities.
Mr. Esedi 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.
Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis
1 The COMMUNICATION FOR CASE OF MR. VEDUD ESEDI
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
"No one shall be subjected to
arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."
(Article 9, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
VII. Model questionnaire to be completed by persons alleging
arbitrary arrest or detention
I. Identity of the person arrested or detained
1. Family name:
(the transcription of the name from Farsi is normally Asadi and the
name in Arabic script is
2. First name:
4. Birth date or age (at the time of detention):
Azerbaijani national; a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran
(a) Identity document (if any):
Being from the
Southern Azerbaijani city of Germi in Mughan, Erdebil, the General
Registry Office in Germi or Erdebil would be responsible for issuing
his birth certificate
The data not
The data not
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the
reading geology in Open University in Rasht
8. Address of usual
He is from the
Southern Azerbaijani city of Germi but a student in Rasht and
therefore his city of current residence would be Rasht. No more
specific information on his address is available.
Date of arrest:
22 July 2008
in the morning.
2. Place of arrest:
The victim was
arrested at his home in Rasht
Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have carried it
arrested at his homes by security agents of Ministry of Information
in Rasht between 6.30 and 7.00 a.m. The agents knocked the door and
four agents entered home and two stayed outside.
they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?
agents mentioned that they had a warrant but did not show it.
5. Authority who issued
the warrant or decision:
the authority was the Ministry of Intelligence at least we assume
so. The onus is on the authority to provide clear information.
Relevant legislation applied (if known):
authority does not provide this data to cover their act of arbitrary
arrests and this case is no exception.
1. Date of detention:
23 July 2008
2. Duration of detention
(if not known, probable duration):
period was probably 2 weeks.
3. Forces holding the
detainee under custody:
detention, the victim would be held by the office of the Ministry of
Information in Rasht. This is also the opinion of his wife, Zehra
when she gave an interview to Radio Liberty (http://www.rferl.org/content/Traditional_Azeri_Wedding_Leads_To_Arrest_In_Iran/1186350.html).
4. Places of detention
(indicate any transfer and present place of detention):
It is assumed
that the victim was kept in a detention facility of the Ministry of
Information, and our reliable sources indicate that he was
transferred to Wing 209 of Evin prison in Tehran.
5. Authorities that
ordered the detention:
response would be that the authority ordered the detention was the
Ministry of Information.
6. Reasons for the
detention imputed by the authorities:
is no official indictment and this has been confirmed by his wife,
Zehra, who sufficed to stating in her Radio Liberty interview that
there is no official indictment. However, victim’s sister, Sumeyya,
was prepared to speculate when she gave an interview to the Radio
Liberty and attributed the reason in the following terms:
it was because we put the image of the Azerbaijan's flag on the
wedding cake," she says. "We sang only Azerbaijani songs, there were
no Farsi songs. We all were speaking Turkic [Azerbaijani], [and
there was] Turkic dancing. There is no need for Farsi in a Turkic
wedding. We used our flag -- we don't need others' flags. I think
Vedud was arrested for this, because the first thing they asked for
when they initiated the search was the wedding film."
7. Relevant legislation
applied (if known):
As there are
no imputed charges, relevant legislation underpinning the arrest,
the custody and the detention are not known. The onus is on the
authority to issue such information and deserve the title of being
called the authority.
IV. Describe the circumstances of the
arrest and/or the detention and indicate precise reasons why you
consider the arrest or detention to be arbitrary
This case has
the full hallmark of arbitrary detentions, including:
The agents arresting the victim did not inform the victim and his
family, the ground for the arrest and everything happened suddenly;
sister says the officers who arrested her brother seized his books
in Azerbaijani, material on the history of Azerbaijan, CDs, and his
The victim was taken to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht on the
following day but leading to no indictment or charges;
The members of victim’s family have been referring to the different
offices of the Ministry of Information but in vain obtaining no
information on his whereabouts;
The victim has been transferred to Evin prison without letting his
family know on his whereabouts;
He has been denied of the access to a lawyer, let alone the lawyer
of his choice.
We have also presented many similar cases showing that Iranian
authorities treat Southern Azerbaijani activists in an arbitrary
Also, Amnesty International has issued many statements supporting
that Iranian authorities act in arbitrary manner.
V. Indicate internal steps, including
domestic remedies, taken especially with the legal and
administrative authorities, particularly for the purpose of
establishing the detention and, as appropriate, their results or the
reasons why such steps or remedies were ineffective or why they were
interview given by the victim’s wife and sister, they have taken
every action possible, including giving interviews to the radio
Liberty, endangering their own safety, but all these are in vain.
Additionally, there are statements from different organisation
campaigning, including the Association of Southern Azerbaijani
Academics and Students Union in Tebriz and Erdebil, for the release
of the victim. But they have not yet secured his liberty.
name and address of the person(s) submitting the information
(telephone and fax number, if possible)
On behalf of:
for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis
Sherifzade 1, Baki, Azerbaijan; Tel/Fax +47-99399225; Email:
August 2008 Signature:
This questionnaire should be addressed to the Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention, OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, fax
No. (41-22) 917.90.06.
The Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland Send e-mail with comments and
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone Number (41-22) 917-9000
Table 2 The Text
on the Interview of Mr Esedi’s wife and sister in the Radio Liberty
Note the transcription of
the names in this article is not in exactly the style as we normally
Traditional Azeri Wedding Leads To Groom's
Arrest In Iran
July 25, 2008
BAKU -- Vedud Asadi is
well-known for his work promoting the cultural and language rights
of Iran's Azeri minority, so it's little surprise that he celebrated
his wedding with a nod to his ethnic heritage.
Guests sang folk songs and danced traditional
dances -- but the flag may have been the icing on the cake for
Iranian authorities who came to arrest him two weeks after the
event, according to his sister, Sumayya Asadi.
"I think it was because we
put the image of the Azerbaijan's flag on the wedding cake," she
says. "We sang only Azerbaijani songs, there were no Persian songs.
We all were speaking Turkic [Azeri], [and there was] Turkic dancing.
There is no need for Persian in a Turkic wedding. We used our flag
-- we don't need others' flags. I think Vedud was arrested for this,
because the first thing they asked for when they initiated the
search was the wedding film."
Vedud Asadi's bride, Zahra Purasad, says the
secret police who arrived at the newlyweds' flat in Rasht on the
evening of July 22 did not give any reasons for her husband's
arrest. "I asked, but they did not say anything," Purasad tells
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.
The Iranian authorities were already familiar
with Asadi's activism. In 2006, the former chairman of the Islamic
Students Union at northwestern Iran's Ardebil University was
arrested for participating in a protest against cartoons that
depicted Azeris as cockroaches.
His family says he spent about 3 1/2 months in
prison without being charged following that arrest, and they now
fear he will be imprisoned again. His wife knows only that he was
taken to a local court on July 24, but has no information about the
outcome in court or his current whereabouts.
The ethnic-Azeri minority makes up 25-33
percent of Iran's population. While the Iranian Constitution
provides language and cultural rights for the country's minorities,
the regime has banned the teaching of the Azeri language in schools,
and harassed and jailed activists like Asadi.
Sumayya Asadi says the officers who arrested
her brother seized his Azeri-language books, material on the history
of Azeris, CDs, and his computer.
Iranian authorities often cite the promotion of
"pan-Turkism" as the reason for detaining ethnic Azeris. But Sumayya
Asadi says her brother is no separatist, he simply believes that his
people's cultural and linguistic rights are worth fighting for.
She says that if she is Azeri, she has the
right to speak Azeri. "I should not have to speak Persian.... If
there are 35 million Turks [Azeris] in the country, shouldn't these
35 million have the right to speak, write, and communicate in their
As for Asadi's wife, when asked what she feels
about the arrest of her husband just two weeks after the wedding,
she says she has no regrets for their actions at their wedding.
"He was arrested for his nation, he did not do
anything bad," she says. "Not for stealing, not for drinking alcohol
or immoral behavior -- for his nation only. I am proud of him."