Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Creating a “Terrorizing” Atmosphere

Hamid Ahadi, Rooz Online:
On Sunday, some 80 individuals that included cultural activists and journalists from Azerbaijan who had gathered in Tehran’s Baharestan square to meet Majlis (Parliament) representatives about the recent events in the Azeri provinces, were all arrested.

A Rooz reporter lists the following among those arrested: Heidar Shadi, Yurosh (ayat) Mehrali Begloo, Frank Farshbaf (student at Teacher Training University), Ramin Sedighi, Sadreddin Mousavi, Zohreh Mazlumi, Hajar Soltani, Mohammad Ahmadi, Morteza Naderi, Ali Noor Mohammadi, Akbar Hosseinzadeh, Seyed-Rasool Samii-Nejad, Ahmad Mohajeri, Tanalnaz Nemati, Soraya Bakhshi, Reza Babai (student at Beheshti University), Mohammad-Bagher Jaafari (student at Beheshti University), Gahreman Khodabandeh (student at Beheshti University), Abbas Bee-Oghloo, Amir Moghim, Hajar Karimi Nejad, Zeinal Al-Oghloo.

The incident began when some 200 Azeri speaking students from Tehran gathered around Tehran’s Baharestan square where the Parliament is located. They were soon attacked by the police with the goal of dispersing them. The protesters turned angry and shouted Azeri slogans. Soon plain clothes officers joined the police in their violence.

Mehrangiz Morovati, the Parliament representative from the town of Khalkhal said regarding the police, “We did not know that students were in the crowd and had gathered and that the police had prevented them from reaching the streets of the Parliament. Through these acts, the police creates a terrorizing atmosphere.”

Esmail Jabarzadeh, Eshrat Shayegh the Parliament representative from Tabriz, Mohammad Abbaspour the PM from the town of Orumie and Mehrangiz Morovati the Khalkhal MP were among the parliamentarians who had been waiting for the protesters to come to the Parliament to air their grievances. Previously, Abed Fatahi the MP from Orumie had informed other MPs of the march of some 10,000 protestors from the towns of Orumie, Ardebil, Tabriz, and Zanjan to Tehran to hold a sit-in in front of the Parliament. READ MORE

In related news, three journalists were arrested on Saturday morning. Their names are Vahid Dargahi (editor of Avaye Ardebil), Ali Nazari (editor of the weekly Araz) and Reza Kazemi (reporter and editorial board member of Yarpagh, Araz and Yashmagh weeklies.

The recent unrest in the Azeri provinces has led to many arrests, in different towns and from different social and professional sections of society. On Saturay night, for example, Hassan Damirchi (a known Azeri musician) was attacked by intelligence agents in his own house, as was his son, and then taken to an undisclosed destination. According to witnesses, large volumes of books and CDs were taken from his house by the agents. Other Damirchi family members had said that Hassan suffered from heart problems and that his health was generally critical. Others who had recently been arrested in Tabriz include Mohammad Najafi, Mohammad Alipour, Changiz Bakhtavar, Dr Ahmad Rezai (better known as Dr Heidar Ogloo), Hassan Arak, Javid Mirzapour, and Hossein Ahmadian.

After the arrest of Changiz Bakhtavar who is a worker activists in Tabriz, his two sons, Siamak and Amir were apparently also arrested for informing others of the arrest of their father. Siamak and Amir were summoned to appear at the Protection and Intelligence bureau of the police last Sunday, which they did and have not been heard of since then.

There are also reports that on May 26th, 2006 intelligence agents in Maraghe arrested Yashar Hakakpour Maraghei, among other activists in the town. Davood Azimzadeh, Hamed Yeganepour, Majid Pejvefam, and Alieza Haghi have also been reported to have been detained by the intelligence bureau.

The committee for the defense of political prisoners in Azerbaijan has said that it believes those arrested are under intense pressure to make statements that they have relations with foreigners. The committee has asked the public to remain calm while monitoring the human rights situation and those of the prisoners in the recent unrest in Azerbaijan province.