Sunday, September 09, 2007


AI: IRAN Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi (m), Azerbaijani language rights activist

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/108/2007
31 August 2007

UA 229/07 Prisoner of conscience/fear of torture

Azerbaijani language rights activist Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi was beaten and detainedon 14 May at his home in Tabriz: he was reportedly first held at a Ministry of Intelligencedetention centre, then moved on around 1 August to Tabriz’s central prison, wherehis mother was able to visit him. She told an interviewer from the Voice of America(VOA) Azerbaijani-language radio station that he had been tortured. The followingday he was apparently moved to a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre somewherein Tabriz, where he is at grave risk of torture. He has not been formally chargedwith any offence.On 4 August, his mother, Jamileh Kazimi, had told the VOA Azerbaijani-language servicethat her son had been detained for his defence of Iranian Azerbaijanis' rightto use their language. She said that he had been tortured, causing his teeth tobe broken, hair to be pulled from his scalp, and blue bruising marks all over hisface and body.His father, Rahim Banayi Kazimi, who has been able to visit him once, reportedlystated that his son had begun a hunger strike to draw attention to his plight, butit is not known whether he is continuing with it.BACKGROUND INFORMATIONIranian Azerbaijanis, who are mainly Shi’a Muslims, are the largest minority inIran, constituting at least 25-30 per cent of the population. They live mainly inthe north and north-west of the country. They are increasingly demanding greatercultural and linguistic rights, including the right to education in their mothertongue of Azerbaijani Turkic. A small minority advocate secession of Iranian Azerbaijanfrom the Islamic Republic of Iran and union with the Republic of Azerbaijan. Thosewho seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity are viewed with suspicionby the Iranian authorities, who often accuse them of vague charges such as "promotingpan-Turkism".In May 2006, massive demonstrations took place in towns and cities in north-westernIran, where the majority of the population is Iranian Azerbaijani, in protest ata cartoon published on 12 May by the state-owned daily newspaper Iran, which manyIranian Azerbaijanis found offensive. Hundreds were arrested during and after thedemonstrations. Other waves of arrests have occurred around dates significant tothe Azerbaijani community, such as a boycott of the start of the academic year inSeptember 2006, after demonstrations in February 2007 on the occasion of InternationalMother Tongue day, and on the anniversary of the May 2006 demonstrations.RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian,Azerbaijani Turkic, Turkish, Arabic, English, French or your own language:- expressing concern at reports that Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi has been detainedsince 14 May without access to legal representation of his choice or medical care,and has been tortured;- urging the authorities to investigate his alleged torture and protect him fromfurther torture or other ill-treatment;- calling on the authorities to enable Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi to seek independentmedical care;- asking why he was arrested, including details of any charges brought against him;- urging the authorities to release Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi unless he is to becharged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence;- expressing concern that Amir Abbas Banayi Kazimi appears to be a prisoner of conscience,held solely for his defence of the right of the Azerbaijani people in Iran to usetheir own language.APPEALS TO:Leader of the Islamic RepublicHis Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme LeaderIslamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republicof IranEmail: info@leader.irSalutation: Your ExcellencyMinister of IntelligenceGholam Hossein Mohseni EjeieMinistry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, IslamicRepublic of IranSalutation: Your ExcellencyHead of the JudiciaryAyatollah Mahmoud Hashemi ShahroudiMinistry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran,Islamic Republic of IranFax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)Salutation: Your ExcellencyParliamentary representative for Tabriz, Oskou and Azar ShahrAkbar A’lami,Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami, Baharestan Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of IranFax: +98 21 3355 6408Email: alami@majlis.irSalutation: Dear SirCOPIES TO:PresidentHis Excellency Mahmoud AhmadinejadThe Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republicof IranEmail: dr-ahmadinejad@president.irvia website: <>Salutation: Your Excellencyand to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or yoursection office, if sending appeals after 12 October 2007

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