The Problem of Southern Azerbaijan
No.: 517/ 2009
Date: 3 June 2009
The Office of High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva
circulate this to
Working Group on
it is also of relevance to:
Rapporteur on the independence of judges
Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom
of opinion and expression
Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and intolerance
Independent Expert on Minority Issues, and
CC Mr Dyke and Mrs.
Harrison, Amnesty International, London
Also: Human Rights
Watch and Human Rights Server
Mr. Elirza Fershi
A south Azerbaijani
prisoner of conscience
CAMPAIGNING FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS OF MR. FERSHI
Please find enclosed
Communication 1 for safeguarding human rights of Mr. Elirza FERSHI Dizej
Yeken, a Southern Azerbaijani cultural activist, who has been deprived of
his liberty by Iranian authorities since 22 May 2009. He is a
university lecturer and Information Technology specialist.
The general background for Mr.
Fershi’s detention have been provided in our General Communication 4 (Ref
516/2009 on 3 June 2009) but the particular circumstances leading to the
detention are detailed in Table and outlined below. We build on our previous
communications informing you on the May 2006 Mass Protests, which its
anniversary is now marked every year on the 22nd of May. The
event was triggered by a cartoon published in an official daily newspaper,
implying an insult to the national integrity of the nation of Azerbaijan in
Southern Azerbaijan. Normally the Iranian authorities resort to the
suppression of the event but this year they went further by planning a
carnival in Tebriz to commemorate the Iran-Iraq war. This could have two
purposes of overshadowing the anniversary of the May 2006 Mass Protests and
diffusing the ongoing wave of protests against yet another racial insult to
the nation of Azerbaijan by Hojjet-ul-Islam Khatami, a former president of
the Islamic Republic of Iran. The cultural activists took part in this
carnival and exercised their right to protest by producing placards
demanding the right to education in mother language. The agents of the
Iranian authorities did not tolerate this simple gesture and brutally
arrested a number of Azerbaijani activists including Mr. Fershi.
We would like to stress that in
compiling this Communication, we have not consulted with Mr. Fershi family
or his lawyer. This statement is necessary to manage the risk of reprisal by
the Iranian authorities.
We are submitting this
Communication, as we have just received an official news release, claiming
that a number of detainees were engaged in arm deals (http://www.irna.ir/View/FullStory/?NewsId=522267).
For a long time, Iranian authorities have been trying in vain to force
confession out of Southern Azerbaijani activists for extremist activities.
This therefore shows that they are still alluding themselves with such
non-existent excuses, which is also a pretexts for torture. We therefore
urge you to campaign for Mr. Fershi and other detainees, as indicated in our
General Communication 4. Thank you in advance for your campaign.
Mr. Eli Tashkent
The Committee for the Defence
of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis
1 The COMMUNICATION FOR CASE OF MR. FERSHI
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:
FERSHI Dizej Yeken Esedi
(the transcription of the name from Farsi may be as: Farshi Dizaj
Yekan and in Arabic script is
فرشي ديزج يکان)
2. First name:
(the transcription of the name from Farsi may be as: Alireza and in
Arabic script is
4. Birth date:
17 October 1978
Southern Azerbaijani national; a citizen of the Islamic Republic of
(a) Identity document (if any):
City: Merend (Marand), Town: Dizej Yeken (or Dizaj Tekan)
The data not available
The data not available
7. Profession and/or activity (if believed to be relevant to the
8. Address of usual residence:
Yeken, Dizej, Merend, West Azerbaijan province, Iran.
Date of arrest:
22 May 2009.
2. Place of arrest:
The victim was arrested in Elgölü resort, Tebriz
3. Forces who carried out the arrest or are believed to have
carried it out:
Unnamed security agents.
they show a warrant or other decision by a public authority?
We deduce from the circumstances that he was rounded up along with
other activists by security agents.
5. Authority who issued the warrant or decision:
Undoubtedly, the agents were from the Ministry of Intelligence at
least we assume so. The onus is on the authority to provide clear
information but this is highly unlikely.
Relevant legislation applied (if known):
Normally the authority does not provide this data to cover their act
of arbitrary arrests.
1. Date of detention:
We assume that the arrest on 22 May 2009 led straight to detention.
2. Duration of detention
(if not known, probable duration):
3. Forces holding the
detainee under custody:
During the detention, the victim would be held by the office of the
Ministry of Information in Tebriz.
4. Places of detention
(indicate any transfer and present place of detention):
It is assumed that the victim is kept in a detention facility of the
Ministry of Information in Tebriz.
5. Authorities that
ordered the detention:
Our assumed 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 information but eyewitness accounts.
7. Relevant legislation
applied (if known):
As there are no imputed charges or information on the relevant
legislation underpinning the arrest. The onus is on the authority
to issue such information and deserve the title of being called the
IV. Describe the
circumstances of the arrest and/or the detention and indicate
precise reasons why you consider the arrest or detention to be
accounts and a Youtube video clip described the circumstances, as
We assume your background knowledge for the May 2006 Mass Protests
in Southern Azerbaijan triggered by a cartoon published in an
official daily newspaper (http://www.dunazhak.net/Special.htm).
It has become customary to mark the anniversary but there was an
additional reason this year with already ongoing wave of protests
against yet another racial insult to the nation of Azerbaijan by
Hojjet-ul-Islam Khatami, a former president of the Islamic Republic
of Iran (see our General Communication Ref: 516/2009 on 3 June
2009). Normally the Iranian authorities resort to the suppression of
the event but this year they went further by planning a carnival in
Tebriz to commemorate the Iran-Iraq war, which provided them the
opportunity to overshadow the anniversary of the May 2006 Mass
Protests and diffuse the ongoing wave of protests. The victim was a
participant in the carnival and also took the opportunity to
campaign for the right of education in mother language, very dear to
his heart. The agents of the Iranian authorities did not tolerate
this simple gesture and brutally arrested a number of Azerbaijani
activists including Mr. Fershi. This is evident in the video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWRBSo9g75g).
He was even chanting the “schooling in mother language for
However, according to the information issued by Mr. Alireza Jamshidi,
the spokesperson of the Iranian judiciary system (http://www.irna.ir/View/FullStory/?NewsId=522267),
has stated that the some 11 individuals were detained for a range of
charges including “publicity against the system of the Islamic
Republic of Iran, some with keeping explosive material, some with
undermining the security of the country. We are confident that these
accusations are the blueprint of the Iranian authorities against any
detainee and a pretext to torture.
The victim is an outspoken campaigner for the right of education in
mother language. He
has even written open letters to Ayatollah Khamenei, the religious
leader of Iran.
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 not taken:
Normally the family members would resort to every possible measure
to determine the whereabouts of the victims but this would normally
be in vain. We assume that this is also the case.
VI. Full name and address of the person(s) submitting the
information (telephone and fax number, if possible)
On behalf of:
The Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis
Ayna, Sherifzade 1, Baki, Azerbaijan; Tel/Fax +47-99399225;
Date: 3 June 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