Eight Azerbaijani Turk Activists End Hunger Strike in Ardabil and Evin Prisons After Officials Promise to Meet Their Demands

On June 14, eight Azerbaijani Turk activists ended their hunger strike in Ardabil and Evin Prisons after the authorities’ favorable promise that their demands would be met.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Saturday, June 13, Abbas Lesani went on a hunger strike to protest the non-observance of the principle of separation of prisoners based on crime and the punitive transfer of political prisoners to wards with prisoners of violent crimes.
Seven other prisoners had gone on hunger strikes in support of Lesani’s endeavor.
The prisoners involved were Abbas Lesani, Yousef Kari, Mehrdad Sheikhi, Ali Vaseghi, Reza Vaseghi, Siamak Mirzaei, Behnam Sheikhi, and Kianoosh Aslani.

Five Azerbaijani Turk Activists on Hunger Strike in Ardabil Prison

Azerbaijani Turk activists Yousef Kari, Abbas Lesani, Mehrdad Sheikhi, Ali Vaseghi, and Reza Vaseghi have gone on hunger strike to protest prison authorities failing to comply with their demands.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the prisoners were transferred to the quarantine center of Ardabil Prison for isolation on Sunday, June 13, and have been barred from phone calls.
Mehrdad Sheikhi, Ali Vaseghi and Reza Vaseghi have been on a hunger strike since June 13 to protest the non-observance of the principle of separation of crimes and the transfer of political prisoners to wards with prisoners of violent crimes. Abbas Lesani and Yousef Kari have been on strike since Saturday, June 12th.
Despite the long term physical and mental harm that hunger strikes can cause, many prisoners in Iran are resorting to this mode of protest, as it is one of the only tools of expression available to them. Many of these strikes take place in protest of the lack of attention to problems in prisoners’ cases, non-observance of inmates’ rights, and prolonged uncertainty about the status of their detention.
 

An appeals court sentenced Yousef Kari to two years in prison

On February 16, 2020, appeals court presided by Judge Yousef Khodadadi reduced Yousef Kari’s sentence to two years imprisonment.

Mr. Kari, an Azerbaijani Turkic ethnic minority rights activist, was sentenced to a six-year prison term by Branch 1 of Ardabil’s Revolutionary Court. In December 2019, Mr. Kari was sentenced to one-year imprisonment for the charge of “propaganda against the state” and five years of imprisonment for the charge of “membership in the civil-ethnic group by attending their meetings with the intent of acting against the national security”.

On September 3, 2019, Mr. Kari was arrested in Shariati Square in Ardabil by the security forces. Although his bail was set at 50 million Tomans, his bail was not accepted by the authorities and his family was told that Mr. Kari’s bail had been increased to 200 million Tomans.

First arrest

On August 10, 2018, he was arrested along with others, after the security forces attacked Azerbaijani Turkic minority activists camp in Mount Sabalan. These activists reportedly planned to climb Mount Sabalan. They were arrested while reading poetry in their camp. Mr. Kari was released after few hours.