Appeals Court Convenes for Seven Azerbaijani Activists

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Saturday, September 1, 2018, Branch 3 of the Appeals Court of the East Azerbaijan province convened to review the cases of seven Azerbaijani activists. Judge Alizadeh will preside over the appeals process.
Four of the activists – Akbar Aboulzadeh, Hamid Allahverdipour, Morteza Shokri, and Esrafil Fathollahzadeh – were present during the proceedings. The three others who were convicted – Saleh Molla Abbasi, Soleiman Kazemi, and Ebrahim Noori (detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison) – did not attend the court session.
The activists were arrested for their participation in public protests against the state-sponsored television series Fitileh in November 2015. Parts of the TV program were believed to contain material portraying Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority in a derogatory light. In October 2017 they were sentenced to prison time in a four-page verdict issued by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Ahar (a city in northwestern Iran), on charges of “Assembly and collusion against national security through propagating against the regime”.
Saleh Molla Abbasi, Akbar Aboulzadeh, and Ebrahim Noori were each sentenced to ten months imprisonment, while Esrafil Fathollahzadeh, Hamid Allahverdipour, Morteza Shokri, and Soleiman Kazemi, were each sentenced to seven months imprisonment.
The Fitileh protests reportedly involved around 25 participants. While the rest of the participants were eventually acquitted, these seven were convicted and now await the result of their appeals.

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