The Problem of Southern Azerbaijan

 

No.: 521/2010

Date: 12 Jan  2010

The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva,

Please circulate this communication to Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. This is also relevant to:

·         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

 

The late Mr. Chingiz Bekhtaver

Dear sir/madam

COMMUNICATION NO 1 ON MR. CHINGIZ BEKHTAVER

Please find enclosed Communication 1 concerning the suspect death of Mr. Chingiz Bekhtaver, a veteran Southern Azerbaijani activist and a figurehead of the national movement (his name may be transcribed from Farsi as Chengiz Bakhtavar). The focus of this Communication is to outline the role of the Iranian authorities in the suspicious circumstance of his death. The following documents are provided for your attention:

  • Table 1: the log of our past communications to you safeguarding the victim’s human rights
  • Table 2: the translation of a statement by Mr. Babek Bekhtaver, the deceased’s son and a political refugee in the UK
  • Table 3: the translation of a report by the funeral services showing the use of force by Iranian authorities and detaining some of the sympathisers and their names
  • Table 4: some of the names of the individuals who were likely to have fallen victim of extra-judicial killings by the Iranian nebulous paramilitary forces and security agents

The salient points of the suspicious death of Mr Bekhtaver, as detailed in Table 2, include:

  • The deceased was in a good health and cheerful as usual
  • On 28 December 2009, he went to his office at 9.30 in the Power Station in Tebriz, had a chat with a friend; but then was not seen until 13.00 p.m., at which time he was found laying dead in his office by the same friend
  • Shortly later, his son dashed to the victim’s office and saw the deceased laying dead, while his face was unusually dark with blood in the region of his mouth and lip
  • His body was taken to a Morgue in a nearby town in the vicinity of the power station
  • His son was continually overshadowed by a security agent
  • His family’s request for an autopsy was obstructed with unusual delays
  • His family members were ordered to bury the victim immediately at the time as elected by the Iranian authorities else they had threatened to destroy victim’s body but the family members had resisted this inhumane manipulations
  • The authorities obstructed the usual funeral and memorial services and in fact arrested some 15 individuals, see Table 3 for a report

The various communications by our NGO organisation is one of the sources striving to document some of the excesses of the singular policies of the Iranian authorities spearheading against the nation of Azerbaijan in Southern Azerbaijan through authentic evidence. These include:

  • Arbitrarily depriving the activists from their liberty
  • Passing arbitrary sentences including flogging, imprisonment and fines
  • Imposing a gagging order through suspended sentences and threats
  • Extra-judicial killings by the nebulous Iranian paramilitary organisations
  • And now suspicious deaths, as documented in this Communication or that of Mr Emani (Ref: 509/2008 on 17 November 2008) and more outlined in Table 4

While the world has now a glimpse of the deeds of the illegitimate Iranian regime, the fact is that Southern Azerbaijan is at the receiving end of this mindset of violence by the Iranian authorities for decades and now with the menace of suspicious deaths, as outlined in Table 4. Not only the Iranian authorities fail their duty to establish the reason for death, but they are even preventing it as well as preventing the people to attend the simple and traditional funeral service. Let us remind you that this is a classic attribute of fascisms.

 

We have checked the reasonable time requirement for carrying out autopsy and understand that two or three days are reasonable but in an over-busy hospital it may take one week. Imposing two weeks for waiting is outrageous and imposing three or four weeks for waiting is simply unacceptable. Based on the suspicious circumstance outlined above and the imposed delays of autopsy by security agents, extra-judiciary killing is likely in this case. In our opinion, all the signs indicate that the Iranian authorities are implicit and may manipulate the autopsy tests and may even dictate the terms of the autopsy report to the Medical Examiner.

We are not claiming that the Iranian authorities killed Mr. Bekhtaver but provided you evidence that they were a culprit in the preventing the establishment of a proper cause of death and acted suspiciously. Not only their “responsibility to protect” is in question but their irresponsible acts against the peace-loving Southern Azerbaijanis are on the focus. We therefore appeal to you to protest against the Iranian authorities for imposing unwarranted delays for the autopsy by asking hard questions and campaign for the unconditional and immediate release of the individuals who were arrested during the funeral services.

We thank you in advance for your care.

Yours sincerely,

Boyuk Resuloglu

Chairperson of the Committee for the Defence of the Rights of World Azerbaijanis

TABLE 1   The Log of our Past Correspondence on various prisoners of Conscience including Mr. Chingiz Bekhtaver

Ref: 333/2006 on 8 June 2008

Ref: 335/2006 on 12 June 2008

Ref: 338/2006 on 19 June 2008

Ref: 344/2006 on 28 June 2008

Ref: 347/2006 on 5 July June 2008

Ref: 350/2006 on 18 July June 2008

Ref: 355/2006 on 28 July June 2008

Ref: 361/2006 on 12 August June 2008

Ref: 363/2006 on 15 August June 2008

Ref: 365/2006 on 19 August June 2008

Ref: 367/2006 on 22 August June 2008

 

TABLE 2    Details Invoking Suspicion against the Death of Mr. Chingiz Bekhtaver

Table 2a: Translation of details issued by Mr. Babek Bekhtaver

To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Bekhtaver, my father, did not suffer from any notable illness. He was endowed with a strong family base and a network of sincere friends and naturally he suffered from no psychological problems. He was 53 years old and therefore at the peak of his health. Based on these preliminary contexts, his sudden death only invokes suspicion and this needs to be explained.

My father called me on 26 December 2009, the night before his death, and we talked for a long while and I enjoy his usual sense of humour. One subject in our talk was the Amsterdam Dialogue Meeting which was held on 11-12 December 2009 and he had a very high opinion of this historic event. He was staying in my uncle’s house and the following day he left there to his work on the fateful day (27 December 2009).

My accurate information is that he arrived at his work at 9.30 a.m. on (27 December 2009) and had a chat with a friend on the arrival. This friend came back to my father’s office room at 1.00 p.m. to take him to the refectory but instead he found him dead. As soon as my brother, Mr. Siyamek Bekhtaver, heard of this, he rushed to my father’s office but found his body in the office, but his face was dark and streaks of blood were visible in the region of his mouth and lip. As my brother was in shock, he was not able to take a mental photo of every detail.

That day was Ashura, an important day in the calendar of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the offices are all closed but my father’s work is a service and therefore he was on duty. His body was taken to a Morgue in Khisrovsha (Farsi transcription of the name of this town is Khisrovsheher) and was kept there that night, as everywhere was closed. On the following day (28 December 2009), his body was taken to a hospital in Tebriz for autopsy and doing the autopsy was demanded by my family members, although the overshadowing security agents tried to obstruct this demand. A number of tests were carried out in the hospital in Tebriz but my family members were told that the results would be issued in some 3 to 4 weeks later. I must stress that during all the way along, my brother was overshadowed by an Iranian security agent! On 28 December 2009, my father’s body was removed from the hospital’s morgue in Tebriz to the Morgue in Maralan cemetery around 16.00-15.00. There my brother was threatened by the Iranian security agents to bury the dead immediately, otherwise tomorrow there will not be any body to bury and there will be no grave to mark him. But my brother had not submitted to this threat and had declined to obey the order, branding it as an inhumane order.

As you know, Chingiz Bekhtaver has a well recognised profile in the national movement of Southern Azerbaijan and as such he was a marked man and a subject of numerous threats, as well as being a prisoner of conscience on numerous occasions and subjected to both physical and psychological torture. I call your attention to his letter written on 13 July 2007 when he was in prison in relation to the May 2006 Mass Protests, which swept Southern Azerbaijan in the following terms:

“I, Chingiz Bekhtaver, have been repeatedly insulted by security agents and my rights have been violated on numerous occasions. Moreover, my safety, my job, and both my basic human rights as well those of my family members have been threatened by security agents merely for the reason of my pro-identity activities campaigning for my national rights. The judiciary system has responded by silence to the threats that I have been subjected to and therefore I am in danger.”

In spite of all these threats, we demand the outcome of the Medical Examination. However, the outrageous behaviour of the Iranian authorities over the months in 2009 has been exposed internationally. Although my father is dead now and nothing will revive him, we are pressing ahead to establish the true reason for the death of my father.

The context ahead of us is that the Iranian authorities failed to silence my father through detention, imprisonment and threats and here I see his death as a statistic added to the long list of suspicious deaths including: Prof. Zehtabi, Mr. Emani and now Bekhtaver but who is next?

Let me remind you some features of his activities:

  • His mindset was clearly expressed in the speech he delivered on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1945-46 National Government of Southern Azerbaijan
  • He was a pragmatic individual and more a man of deeds than words
  • He promoted the right for self determination in Southern Azerbaijan for the nation of Azerbaijani Turks and rejected the onslaught of the racist policies of the Iranian authorities
  • Democracy in Azerbaijan was his ideals and he was inspired by Jefer Pisheveri, the leader of the national government in 1945-46
  • He joined the national movement from a trade union rank-and-file of Southern Azerbaijan and was a link in between and promoted pro-identity concepts within trade union movements.

 

Table 2b A document showing the complaint of the deceased victim complaining to the Iranian authrotities making the point that he was under threat by them. The highlighted text has been translated

 

 

 

TABLE 3    Reports by Savalan Sesi on the Funeral Service

Table 3a         A Report from the Funeral Services

(http://www.savalansesi.com/2009/12/blog-post_29.html)

The participants for the funeral service of Mr. Chingiz Bekhtaver, a high-profile Southern Azerbaijani activist, were subjected to violence by the Iranian security agents and a number of them were detained.

The funeral service of Mr. Bekhtaver took place on 29 December 2009 in Maralan cemetery of Tebriz but at the exit of the cemetery, security agents and the so called anti-riot forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked unprovoked participants using chains and sticks. They also arrested a number of individuals.

As reported by eyewitnesses, more than 20 individuals were arrested and were taken by security agents to an undisclosed location.  There is no full name list of the individuals arrested but included a number of prminent activists, e.g. Hadi Murtuza Silb (the editor-in-charge of the student publication, Ulduz, in the Technology University of Esfahan), Mejid Javadpur, Mehdi Javadpur and Nesib Javadpur (three brothers) The security agents also confiscated  mobile telephones.

During the act of attacking, security agents sprayed tear gas, the one known as the “pepper gas” against Abbas Leysanli, Hadi Hemidi Shefeq, Mehemmed Tajdehi, Huseyn Nesiri, all of Southern Azerbaijani activists and all were injured as a result of the attack.

Prior to the funeral service, Iranian security agents had contacted Mr Abbas Leysanli by telephone and threatened him to leave Tebriz and not to participate in the funeral and memorial service, else would be killed.

We may report that despite the tense and militarised atmosphere created by the Iranian authorities, more than 2000 individuals participated in the funeral service in Maralan cemetery at around 10.00-11.00 a.m. on 29 December 2009. these included Abbas Leysanli and Hesen Demirchi and these prominent figureheads of the Soutnern Azerbaijani national movement delivered a defiant and moving obituary. The participants laid flower and all sang the hymn of Azerbaijan on the grave of the victim.

 

Table 3b Individuals who were detained for participating in the memorial Service  

http://www.savalansesi.com/2010/01/blog-post_07.html

More information is given by Mr. Yashar Hekkakpur, as reported by Savalan Sesi (link is given above). We only suffice to listing the name of the individuals were were detained by the Iranian security agents:

  1. Abbas Leysanli (but was released before the memorial services)
  2. Hadi Murtuza Silb
  3. Mejid Javadpur,
  4. Mehdi Javadpur
  5. Nesib Javadpur
  6. Ibrahim Ferejzade
  7. Ibrahim Asmani
  8. Eli Tehemten
  9. Rza Ebdi
  10. Elirza Yusufi
  11. Ferzin Esgeri
  12. Eli Imani
  13. Yequb Vujudi (there is no information on his whereabouts yet)

Also the security agents entered the mosque where the memorial service was being held and photographed the participants, creating a tense atmosphere.

Also of interest may be the victim’s speech deliver on the occasion of 21 Azer (in Azerbaijani Turkic: http://www.bizimtabriznews.com/files/video/chengiz.flv

And films from the funeral may be accessed in:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZW1C5Do3kE

http://bizimtabriznews.com/index.php/video/4577.html 

 

TABLE 4   An Overview of Suspicions Deaths Inflicted by the Iranian Paramilitary Units Against Southern Azerbaijanis

Table 4a Suspicious Deaths

The deceased Mr. Ramin pur-Enderjani

1.      Mr Chingiz Bekhtaver, as per this Communication

2.      Mr Ramin pur-Enderjani, a Southern Azerbaijani medical doctor serving in the Kehrizek detention facilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was found dead under suspicious circumstances in November 2009. He was a graduate medical doctor serving his military services and was apparently assigned to the Kehrizek detention services a few weeks ago. Official reports state that he was after returning from duty to the dormitory, he went to sleep but the people there noticed after a while that he was dead. The authorities attributed this to a heart attack apparently from the fear of detention that he was released under bail. However, this is regarded as a suspicious by Southern Azerbaijanis but unfortunately we could not provide you with a sufficient record.  His case was widely reported including the one by the BBC: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2009/11/091118_m_ramin_kahrizak_ahmadi_moghaddam.shtml)

3.      Mr Qulamrza Emani and his brothers (Ref: 509/2008 on 17 November 2008), which also mentions the suspicious deaths of the following Southern Azerbaijani victims.

4.      Babek Nuri, a pro-identity activist from Keleyber, was killed in the highway to Eher, similar to Mr. Emani

5.      Mr. Mehdi Talibi, (known as Albay Zenganli), a pro-identity [Southern] Azerbaijani activist, was killed in an accident with a motor car in Peykan Shahr Road

6.      Sehend Efshar, a young poet from Tebriz, died in 2003 as a result of an accident in a highway leading to Erdebil also with a cut in his throat.  It must be mentioned that in this suspicious accident, all of his companions, all employees of the Department of Finance in Tebriz, escaped unscathed.

7.      Qadir Sediqi together with two of his friends were chased by security agents while on a motor bike. As a result of the accident, all three of them hit the ground and subsequently Qadir was killed on the spot due to the intensity of his injuries and bleeding. The other two were taken to a nearby hospital due to their injuries.

8.      Nadir Musazade, another pro-identity activist, was killed in a highway towards Khoy together with his cousins.

9.      Mir-kazim Musevi, an [Southern] Azerbaijani activist and a renowned musician, was killed instantly in Kerej (Karaj) Highway in a suspicious looking truck accident.

10.  Suspicious death of Professor Zehtabi in 1999, the most prominent contemporary historians and anthropologists of Azerbaijan and Iran, where international organisations referred to this episode as victims of the serial killings in the 1999s and condemned it for being implemented by security agents of the religious authorities holding the reign of power in Iran.

Table 4b         Extra-Judiciary Executions

We have also reported to you that during the May 2006 Mass Protests, which swept Southern Azerbaijani cities and towns, the Iranian paramilitary units executed more twenty individuals. Although we provided you their names bur regrettably could not provide Communications on each individual. Besides these there were hundreds who were wounded and again we provided you the names of some of those victims but were unable to provide you communications on each and every individual. See for more details our communication Ref: 333 / 2006 on 8 June 2006; Ref: 344 / 2006 on 28 June 2008

 

 
 

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