Azerbaijani Activist Abbas Lasani Spurns Text-Message Summons

Posted on: September 18th, 2018

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.

Ahwazi Arab Activist Ahmad Neisi Released After Completing Prison Sentence

Posted on: September 17th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Ahwazi Arab activist Ahmad Neisi (Tamimi) has completed his two-year prison sentence and was released Tuesday, September 11th from Sheyban Prison in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran.

Neisi, age 32, was among a group of four arrested by Iranian Cyber Police (FATA) in 2016 in Khuzestan province in connection to their social network activity. Along with Taregh Achrash 28, Mohammad Mahavi, 29, and Majed Achrash, 26, he was transferred upon his arrest to Evin Prison in Tehran. All four were transferred to the Ahvaz Sheyban Prison one month later.

Neisi, Achrash, Mahavi, and Achrash’s case was reviewed by Branch 2 of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Zare. After four months, they were released on bail of 2,000,000,000 Rials (approximately $15,000 USD).

Shortly afterwards, all four defendants were tried again in the same court on a charge of “acting against national security” for their social network activity, and were each sentenced to a two-year imprisonment. The conviction was upheld in appeals court.

While the conviction was being forwarded to the Enforcement Department, Neisi was unable to post bail in the interim, and turned himself in to Sheyban Prison on August 12th, 2016.