Four activists sentenced to 45 years of prison for respecting their mother tongue

Four activists sentenced to 45 years of prison for respecting their mother tongue

Published by on February 27, 2017

Four Turkish speaking civil rights activists in north-western province of Iran have been sentenced to 45 years in jail and 8 years of exile for commemorating International Mother Language Day.

An activist from Azerbaijan province has reported that the defendants’ main charge was holding a ceremony to commemorate International Mother Language Day in 2014. Their other charges include “forming mountain climbing groups” and “publishing contents on social networks”. They have therefore been accused of and sentenced for “divergent and separatist measures” by the Revolutionary court.

Issued on February 19, the verdict has been communicated to the activists on February 21, coinciding with International Mother Language Day.

According to the verdict Alireza Farshi, received 15 years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Khuzestan province, Akbar Azad, 10 years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Ilam province, Behnam Sheikhi, ten years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Khuzestan province, and Hamid Manfi, ten years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Lorestan province.

February 21 has been named by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day. Ethnic rights activists in some regions of Iran commemorate the day in unofficial ceremonies.

Twitter users have been criticising Iranian regime’s ban on teaching languages other than Farsi at schools in areas of predominantly ethnic groups.


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Dear Secretary General of United Nations,

The number of executions is rising in Iran, journalists are being detained for doing their job and activists face cruel and degrading punishments, long prison terms and even execution. According to the most recent reports by Amnesty International and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Iran’s judiciary continues to sentence child offenders to death, and carry out their execution by hanging”. Also, on August 9th, 2016 the son of late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s designated successor in 1988, published a shocking audio tape of his father’s meeting with the “Death Commission” which summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini.

We, the undersigned, hereby urge you to take up this issue and raise it in the General Assembly in order to;

1. Put pressure on Iran to immediately halt the executions and abolish death penalty in Iran.
2. Call on all Western governments to make any improvement in economic relations with Iran contingent on its human rights record.
3. Demand in its resolution on human rights violations in Iran, to bring the perpetrators of 1988 massacre (one of the worst atrocities the post-war world has ever seen – Geoffrey Robertson-QC) to justice before an international tribunal.

Executions must stop.

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