One Azerbaijani Activist Back In Detention, Another Free on Bail

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

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.

Crackdown on Azerbaijani Activists Veers to Violence

Posted on: November 1st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In their continued persecution of Azerbaijani activists, security forces attempting to extract confessions have reportedly battered two of them severely, landing one in the hospital with broken ribs and injured fingers.

Without explanation, agents arrested Nasim Sadeghi and Hakimeh Ahmadi within three days of each other in late October 2018, and sources close to both women report that they have since been subjected to beatings. In a video he published October 30th, Ahmadi’s husband Gholamreza Ghorbani related the news of her injuries and 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 expense. Sadeghi, who was transferred from an IRGC intelligence detention center to Tabriz Central Prison on October 29th, confirmed on a phone call with her family that authorities were applying brute-force coercion to make her own up to their allegations, threatening to arrest her children and her sister’s children if she didn’t confess.

Security forces arrested Ahmadi on October 18th after inspecting her home and threatening her and Ghorbani with a close-combat weapon; Sadeghi was taken by security forces on her walk home October 21st.

Though Sadeghi and Ahmadi were not told the reasons behind their arrests, an assistant in Branch 19 of the revolutionary and general prosecutor’s office recently explained Sadeghi her charges: “propaganda against the regime through anti-regime news activity in cyberspace.” Initially offered bail during an October 25th court appearance, Sadeghi was kept in custody when security forces objected to her release.

Sadeghi was finally released Wednesday, October 31st on a bail of 150 million tomans [approximately $3,500 USD]. As of the date of this report, Ahmadi’s location and charges are still unknown.

Both Ahmadi and Sadeghi have previous arrests on their records. Ahmadi was detained this past September and released on a bail of one billion Rials [approximately $7,000 USD]. On July 28, 2016, Sadeghi was among dozens arrested for their participation in a public protest against controversial comments published in the newspaper Tarh-e No. She was interrogated for five days in the Intelligence Detention Center of Tabriz for charges of “acting against national security through propaganda against the regime,” brought by Branch 7 of the Prosecutor’s Interrogation Office of Tabriz Revolutionary Court. She was released on a bail of 1 billion IRR [approximately $8000 USD] pending trial.

Azerbaijani activists have felt the pressure of intensified security controls in recent months. Rahman Ghasemi and Abolfazl Fakouri, recently arrested in Tabriz for unknown reasons and transferred to undisclosed locations, are two more among many who have been unceremoniously swept up.

Ghasemi, an Urmia resident, was summoned and interrogated by Urmia security forces this past September. On July 7th, he was arrested amid security crackdowns on an Azerbaijani cultural gathering at Babak Fort and released four days later.

Per a recent announcement, the appeals hearing of Azerbaijani activist Kiumars Eslami, also arrested and charged for his presence at Babak Fort, will take place November 17th at 10 a.m. in Branch 1 of Ardebil Appeals Court. Eslami’s cultural activism — including his membership in the Parsabad county Pan-Turkic movement and translation of Persian-language books into Azerbaijani — have earned him accusations from authorities of being “sectarian” and propagandizing against the regime.

Tabriz is the capital of the northwestern province of Eastern Azerbaijan, which borders the Republic of Azerbaijan and is home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority. 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.

Azerbaijanis Detained for Cultural Observances

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- A crackdown on Azerbaijani activists continued this past week when activist Reza Zarei was taken into custody by security forces, purportedly in connection to his newfound campaign promoting native [Azerbaijani] names.

Two Azerbaijani activists, Sajad Afrouzian and Sadollah Sasani, were released from a law enforcement detention center in Tabriz on Saturday, October 27th. One day prior, Afrouzian, Sasani, and Azerbaijani activist Ebrahim Ranjbar were arrested in front of Tabriz’s Maralan Cemetery after participating in a memorial service for Gholamreza Amani. As of the date of this report, no further information is available on Ranjbar’s whereabouts.

Gholamreza Amani was a renowned Azerbaijani activist who died in a car accident along with his two brothers on October 23, 2008. Public suspicions around the circumstances of his death — believed by some to be “premeditated murder”– have attracted heightened security presence to his memorial services since.

Coinciding the three aforementioned arrests was the detainment of Hakimeh Ahmadi, arrested in her home in the city of Marand, East Azerbaijan Province and transferred to an undisclosed location. No further information is currently available on her location or the charges against her.

Ahmadi was previously arrested this past September and released on a bail of one billion Rials [approximately $7,000 USD].

Tabriz is located in Azerbaijan province, in Iran’s northeast.

Four Activists Arrested in East Azerbaijan Province

Posted on: October 27th, 2018

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.