Azerbaijani Activist Abbas Lasani Spurns Text-Message Summons
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Abbas Lasani, an Azerbaijani activist and former political prisoner, will not be responding to the SMS he received from Branch 2 of Tabriz Revolutionary Court.
A resident of Ardabil in northwestern Iran–home to the country’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority–Lasani said that due to authorities’ spurious method of summoning him, he refused to attend the hearing scheduled for him on Tuesday, September 18th.
“Even ignoring the suspect intent of this summons, their delay in sending it, and the timing of the hearing on [the eve of the Muharram holidays]– it’s impossible to ignore that the summons is illegitimate, arriving by text message with no official hard copy,” Lasani said. “Appropriate preparations can’t be made in these circumstances.”
Lasani and three other Azerbaijani activists were first arrested by Intelligence agents on July 2, 2018, a few days before an annual gathering at Babak Fort, a site that has acquired symbolic importance for Azerbaijani rallies in recent years. Prior to his arrest, he had shared a video encouraging people to attend the gathering. He was released on $3,500 USD (500 million IRR) bail July 11, 2018.
Lasani was among the first of more than 80 Azerbaijani activists arrested throughout Ardabil, West Azerbaijan, and East Azerbaijan provinces at the time of the Babak Fort gathering.
Amnesty International issued a statement on August 5th of this year, calling the arrests of Azerbaijani activists “arbitrary” and unlawful, and demanded the immediate release of all individuals detained for their participation in Azerbaijani Turkic cultural gatherings.