Four activists sentenced to 45 years of prison for respecting their mother tonguePublished by International Liberty Association 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.