Update on Hossein Forouhideh, as some of you may recall, there was great concern that he may be executed in March, but thankfully he was not. It appears as though he is still in grave risk of execution along with his cousin. Bellow please find the latest Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal.



PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/062/2007

30 May 2007

UA 128/07 Death penalty/torture

IRAN



Hossein Forouhideh, also known as Khatibi (m)

Iraj Naji (m), his cousin


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Hossein Forouhideh, an advocate of linguistic and social rights for Iranians of Azerbaijani ethnicity, is reportedly facing imminent execution. He has allegedly been tortured. His cousin, Iraj Naji, is in solitary confinement and Amnesty International fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.



Hossein Forouhideh, from the Khoy region of Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, was reportedly sentenced to death by Bench One of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Urumiye, in West Azerbaijan province. He was reportedly accused of spying for Turkey, but the charges of which he was convicted are not known. He has reportedly spent more than nine months in a detention facility under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Urumiye. Torture has allegedly left him with extensive bruising to his torso and a number of broken ribs.



In March the authorities told his mother, who lives in Khoy, that he had already been executed, and that she should collect his body from the detention facility. When she got there, the guards told her that Hossein Forouhideh had not yet been executed. She recently visited the detention facility again, but was not allowed to visit her son, and fears he has been tortured.



Hossein Forouhideh’s wife is a Turkish citizen who lives in eastern Turkey. She has reportedly stated that she has not been able to obtain information about her husband since at least September 2006. Hossein Forouhideh's father and a brother also live in Turkey.



Hossein Forouhideh’s cousin Iraj Naji has reportedly been held in solitary confinement in Urumiye since around October 2006. He is said to be accused of undertaking actions on behalf of Turkey and inciting the people of Khoy to demonstrate, in May 2006, against the publication in the state-owned daily newspaper Iran of a caricature which many Iranian Azerbaijanis considered offensive. Its publication resulted in widespread demonstrations in areas of Azerbaijani settlement in which hundreds, possibly thousands, of demonstrators were arrested, and demonstrators were shot by the authorities.



BACKGROUND INFORMATION



Iranian Azerbaijanis speak a Turkic language known as Azerbaijani Turkic. Mainly Shi’a Muslims, they are the largest ethnic minority in Iran, believed to constitute 25-30 percent of the population. They live mainly in the north and north-west of the country. As Shi’a, they are not subject to as much discrimination as minorities of other religions, and are well-integrated into the economy, but there is a growing demand for greater cultural and linguistic rights, including implementation of their constitutional right to education through the medium of Azerbaijani Turkic. A small minority advocate secession of Iranian Azerbaijan from the Islamic Republic of Iran and union with the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Iranian authorities view those who seek to promote Iranian Azerbaijani cultural identity with suspicion, and often accuse them of vague charges such as "promoting pan-Turkism".



The publication of the caricature in Iran led to waves of demonstrations broke out in towns and cities in north-west Iran, after the newspaper was suspended.. At first on a on a small scale, mainly among Iranian Azerbaijani students in universities in the city of Tabriz in East Azerbaijan province, and in the capital, Tehran, protests moved rapidly to other Iranian Azerbaijani areas. A huge demonstration took place in Tabriz on 22 May and further demonstrations were held in other places in the following days. Most of these protests were peaceful, but some ended with attacks on government buildings and cars and were met, in places, by the use of lethal force and mass arrests. Some Iranian Azerbaijani sources have claimed these attacks were instigated by government agents.

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