Appeals Court Upholds Conviction of Azerbaijani Activist

Posted on: October 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The three-year prison sentence of Azerbaijani activist Hossein Ali Mohammadi Alvar has been upheld by Judge Bahloul Alizadeh of East Azerbaijan Province Appeals Court Branch 3. Mohammadi Alvar is a resident of Tabriz in northwestern Iran, home to the country’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.

An informed source confirmed news of the appeals decision to HRANA and elaborated on Mohammadi Alvar’s charges: two years in prison for insulting the Supreme Leader, and one year in prison for propaganda against the regime.

The appeals verdict confirmed the initial sentence issued to Mohammadi Alvar in Branch 2 of Tabriz Revolutionary Court. The same appeals court upheld the same sentence on the same charges four years ago, in connection to a different case file initially tried in Tabriz Revolutionary Court Branch 3. Pursuant to the 2014 ruling, security agents apprehended Mohammadi Alvar March 1, 2015, transferring him to Tabriz Central Prison to begin serving his sentence.

Authorities began developing a rap sheet on Mohammadi Alvar on September 12, 2013, when he and Farzad Mahdavi were arrested by security agents at a match of the Tabriz-based soccer club “Tractor Sazi.” Both Mohammadi Alvar and Mahdavi spent a day in detention before posting bail and going free.

Two months later, on November 4th, 2013, Tabriz security agents would arrest Mohammadi Alvar a second time, along with his fellow Azerbaijani activist Taha Kermani. Mohammadi Alvar and Kermani spent nearly 6 months in Tabriz Central prison before being released on bail. The corollary 10-year prison sentence issued to Mohammadi Alvar and Kermani in Revolutionary Court Branch 3 was later reduced to 2 years in appeals court.

In July 2015, Amnesty International issued a statement expressing concern that Mohammadi Alvar and Kermani’s 10-year sentence was “unjustified” and “politically motivated.” Amnesty said the men were convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, which constituted a violation of human rights. They urged authorities to order an impartial investigation of the men’s torture allegations, and that if the latter is proven true, to bring those responsible to justice.

Azerbaijani Activist Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for Cultural Rally

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Kiumars Eslami, an Azerbaijani activist arrested during the July 4th Azerbaijani rallies at Babak Fort, has been sentenced to one year in prison by Judge Firooz Farahani Mazrae Jahan, on the charge of “propaganda against the regime.”

Babak Fort is a site in northwestern Iran, home to the country’s Azerbaijani minority group, that has gained popularity in recent years as an annual cultural rallying spot for Azerbaijani activists during the first week of July.

In justifying his verdict, the judge cited Eslami’s cultural and ‘separatist’ activities: “The defendant is one of the ethnic, separatist, and Pan-Turkic activists in Parsabad,” Jahan wrote. “In order to carry out this separatist activity, he prepares reports, translates Persian books into Turkish [In Persian, the Azerbaijani language is often referred to as Turkish], distorts them in cyberspace, and disseminates them to foreign networks associated with the opposition. He is a leader and a member of the sub-branches of the Pan-Turkic movement in Parsabad county.”

Another reason cited for Eslami’s conviction was his reference to Iran’s Azerbaijani provinces as “South Azerbaijan” in social media posts.

According to an informed source, the head of Parsabad’s intelligence office, known only as Hazrati, previously told Eslami that his case file would be closed if he announced on the news that he would cease his Azerbaijani-related activism and cut off contact with fellow activist Abbas Lasani, who was recently convicted of similar charges.

A native of Parsabad-e Moghan, also located in northwestern Iran, Eslami was previously held in Moghan Prison, where he reportedly sustained head wounds and bleeding during violent interrogations by Iranian authorities. He went on a nine-day hunger strike beginning July 28th to protest the prison conditions and his oppression in the judicial system. He was released on approximately $650 USD (120 million IRR) bail on August 9th.

Evin Prosecutors Summon Azerbaijani Activist Jafar Rostamirad in Connection to Babak Fort Gathering

Posted on: August 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Jafar Rostamirad, an Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activist, has been summoned by Branch 7 of the Prosecutor’s Office, based in Tehran’s Evin Prison, for the last round of his defense statement. He has been given five days to go to the Prosecutor’s Office, a credible source told HRANA.

Rostamirad was arrested on July 2nd by plainclothes security forces in Tehran who did not present a warrant. His arrest was in connection with the Babak Fort gathering that occurred on the same day. After spending seven days in solitary confinement, he was sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison and charged with “Propaganda against the regime”. He was released on bail on July 31st.

From the *Babak Fort arrests on July 2nd, Ebrahim Noori, an Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activist, is the only one who remains in prison. He is held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison.

Rostamirad had previously been arrested on February 21, 2015, after taking part in a private meeting to commemorate International Mother Language Day.

*Babak Fort, a monument built during the pre-Islamic Sassanian period, is named after Babak Khorramdin, known for leading an uprising against the Abbasid caliphate in 893. In recent years, it has become a place of symbolic gatherings for Azerbaijani activists, especially during the annual commemorations in the first week of July.

Azerbaijani Activist Released While Another Remains in Prison

Posted on: August 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRANA) – Ebrahim Noori, an Azerbaijani activist from the city of Ahar who was arrested during the Babak Fort gatherings on July 2 and sent to Ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison continues to be held after almost 40 days. Mr Noori is reportedly banned from contacting his family.

A source close to Mr Noori told HRANA that Mr Noori was only allowed to speak to his brother on the phone “for a few seconds”.

Born in 1991 in the city of Ahar, Mr Noori was previously convicted twice of “Acting against national security by waging propaganda against the regime.” He had received a combined suspended sentence of 16 months.

Babak Fort, a monument built during the pre-Islamic Sassanian period, is named after Babak Khorramdin, known for leading an uprising against the Abbasid caliphate in 893. In recent years, it has become a place of symbolic gatherings for Azerbaijani activists, especially during the annual commemorations in the first week of July.

Kiyomars Eslami, another Azerbaijani activist, was also arrested during the same annual gatherings. He was reportedly released on bail on August 9th.

Mr Eslami, who hails from the city of Moqan, was released on Thursday after a month in Moqan Prison. He posted a bail worth 120 million rials. He was arrested on July 4 and suffered bleeding in the head after he was beaten by Iranian authorities during interrogations. Mr Eslami had gone on a nine-day hunger strike which he began on July 28 in protest to the prison conditions and his unclear situation.

Ebrahim Noori is the only individual who remains detained from those who were arrested in connection to the Babak Fort gatherings.