Azerbaijani Activist Mohammad Khakpour Summoned to Ardabil Prosecutor’s Office

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Azerbaijani activist Mohammad Khakpour received a writ dated November 14th, ordering him under threat of arrest to appear at Branch 1 of the Ardabil Investigation and Prosecution Office within the next five days.

Khakpour was among a group of Ardabil residents arrested for their participation in Azerbaijani cultural gatherings last July. Marking the season of annual crackdowns on these gatherings — which in recent years have gravitated to Babak Fort — at least 80 Azerbaijani activists were arrested that month. Khakpour was held in custody for three days.

Fort Babak, a monument built during the pre-Islamic Sasanian period, is the namesake of Babak Khorramdin, who led an uprising against the Abbasid caliphate in 893. In recent years, it has become a place of symbolic gathering for Azerbaijani activists, especially during annual commemorations held in the first week of July.

Azerbaijani Activist Arrested in Northwest Iran

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Security agents arrested Azerbaijani activist and Tabriz resident Gholamreza Rashidi on Sunday, October 28th and transferred him to an undisclosed location.
A source close to Rashidi told HRANA that he was assaulted during the arrest. No information is currently available on the reasons behind his detainment.
Tabriz is the capital of the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan, which borders the Republic of Azerbaijan and is home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.

One Azerbaijani Activist Back In Detention, Another Free on Bail

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Azerbaijani political prisoner Hakimeh Ahmadi, who underwent hospital treatment for ribcage and finger injuries sustained at the hands of Iranian security forces, is back in Intelligence detention in Marand County.

Marand-based security forces entered Ahmadi’s home on October 18th, threatening both her and her spouse with a weapon. She was arrested and transferred without explanation to an undisclosed location, later reaching out to her family from Tabriz Prison.

In a video he published October 30th, Ahmadi’s husband Gholamreza Ghorbani related news of her hospital transfer, explaining that authorities had refused to disclose where she had been admitted, forbade him from visiting, and advised him that pending treatments would be at his and Ahmadi’s expense.

Ahmadi was previously detained this past September and went free on one billion Rials [approximately $7,000 USD] bail.

Meanwhile, on November 1st, Azerbaijani activist Rahman Ghasemi of Urmia was released on bail pending trial. He was arrested October 29th in Tabriz.

Ghasemi was previously arrested and interrogated by Urmia police for his attendance at the strictly-sanctioned Babak Fort gatherings this past July.

Activist Maharam Kamrani Arrested in East Azerbaijan Province

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Azerbaijani activist and medical doctor Maharam Kamrani was arrested Thursday, October 25th at his workplace in East Azerbaijan Province’s Ahar county.
Kamrani’s medical practice was raided by security forces who seized his computer, laptop, books, and other personal belongings. He was then sent home under tight security controls and interrogated for three hours in front of his children.
Neighbors were reportedly assaulted when they protested the presence of plainclothes and security agents around the perimeter of Kamrani’s house.
After the interrogation, Kamrani was sent to an undisclosed location. His whereabouts and the charges against him have yet to be confirmed.
Kamrani was previously arrested for taking part in street protests against the TV show “Fetileh,” believed by many to have portrayed Azerbaijanis in a derogatory light.

Four Activists Arrested in East Azerbaijan Province

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Three Azerbaijani activists residing in Tabriz — Sajjad Afroozian, Ebrahim Ranjbar, and Sadollah Sasani — were arrested by security agents Friday, October 26th for participating in a memorial service for Gholamreza Amani. A fourth, Hakimeh Ahmadi, was arrested for undisclosed reasons in Marand.
Gholamreza Amani was a renowned Azerbaijani activist who died in a car accident along with his two brothers on October 23, 2008. Amid public suspicions around the circumstances of his death — believed by some to be a “premeditated murder” — security forces have kept an anxious eye and grip on the gatherings held in his memory.
A close source said security forces surrounded Maralan cemetery on Thursday, where Amani’s commemoration was scheduled to take place. Afroozian was among a number of activists contacted by security agents that day who threatened to detain them if they showed up.
Two of the arrested memorial attendees have been pursued by authorities in the past. Sasani was among a group of Azerbaijani activists arrested and interrogated in July 2017 during a gathering at Babak Fort. He was later released on a bail of 20 million tomans (approximately $5,000 USD). In one of his multiple run-ins with security agents and interrogators, Afroozian was violently apprehended in December 2016 in the city of Malekan and released the following February on a 50 million toman bond [approximately $12,000 USD].
Coinciding the three aforementioned arrests was the detainment of Hakimeh Ahmadi, arrested at her home in the city of Marand. Security agents reportedly roughhoused both her and husband, threatening them with a close-combat weapon. They offered no explanation for her arrest.
Ahmadi was previously arrested this past September and released on a 100 million toman bail [approximately $7,000 USD].
Afroozian, Ranjbar, Sasani, and Ahmadi have all been transferred to undisclosed locations.
Tabriz, Marand, and Malekan are located in the northeastern province of Azerbaijan, which borders the Republic of Azerbaijan and is home to Iran’s Azerbaijani minority.

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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.

Azerbaijani Turkic Activists Arrested After Ceremony in Mount Sabalan

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Security forces in Meshginshahr (northwestern Iran) reportedly arrested several Azerbaijani Turkic minority activists on Friday, August 10th after attacking their camp in Mount Sabalan.
The activists, who had reportedly planned to climb Mount Sabalan, were arrested while reading poetry in their camp. There is no information available at this time about their condition or the charges issued against them.
HRANA was able to confirm some of their names: Aidin Zakeri, Tohid Amir Amini, Saleh Pichganloo, Reza Ebrahimi, Rahim Nowrouzi, Mojtaba Parvin, Mostafa Parvin, Yousef Kari, Mehdi Houshmand, Babak Nikzad, Younes Shokri, Javad Shokri, Hossein Salavan, Mohammad Ghohoumzadeh, Rasoul Ghohoumzadeh, Ealman Mohammadpour, Aisouda Mohammadpour and Ahmad Mohammadpour.
According to eyewitnesses, some of the activists were beaten for resisting arrest. One of the detained activists informed his family in a phone call that they were all transferred to a detention center in Lahroud (near Meshginshahr).