Appeals Court Upholds Convictions of Six Azerbaijani Activists

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Six Azerbaijani activists accused of national-security related crimes for protesting Azerbaijani cultural misrepresentation in 2015 had their appeal rejected.

On September 1, 2018, Judge Hossein Farshi Radvar of Branch 3 of the East Azerbaijan Province Appeals Court moved to uphold the original ruling, issued to a total of seven activists in October 2017 by Branch 1 of Ahar Revolutionary Court. Ahar is situated in northwest Iran, home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.

On a conviction of “Assembly and collusion against national security by propagandizing against the regime,” the activists all face prison time: ten months for both Akbar Aboulzadeh and Ebrahim Noori, and seven months apiece for Esrafil Fathollahzadeh, Hamed Allahverdipour, Morteza Shokri, and Soleiman Kazemi.

Though the appeals court had also summoned Saleh Molla Abbasi, his name did not figure in the final verdict. The initial ruling indicated he faces a 10-month prison sentence.

From the group of seven, the four who attended the initial court hearing were the same ones present at the appeals hearing: Aboulzadeh, Fathollahzadeh, Allahverdipour, and Shokri. Three others – Saleh Molla Abbasi, Kazemi, and Noori – did not attend the court session. Noori is currently serving a sentence for other charges in Evin Prison of Tehran.

The activists were arrested in November of 2015 for their involvement in public protests against the state-sponsored television series “Fitileh,” parts of which were believed to portray the Azerbaijani ethnic minority in a derogatory light. The “Fitileh” protests reportedly involved around 25 participants. All but these seven were eventually acquitted.

HRANA previously reported on the activists’ pending appeals hearing.

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