PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/046/2005
UA 219/05 Fear for safety/fear of torture or ill-treatment/ 24
possible prisoner of conscience
IRAN Hojjatoleslam Ezimi Qedimi (m), aged 32, Muslim cleric
Hojjatoleslam Ezimi Qedimi was reportedly arrested on 5 August. He is believed to be held in a prison in Tabriz, the capital of the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan and may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he may have gone on hunger strike and it is not clear whether he has been able to meet family members or a lawyer of his choice.
Hojjatoleslam Ezimi Qedimi is an ethnic Azeri Muslim cleric from Verziqan near Tabriz. He was arrested in Trabriz at the mausoleum of an Azeri hero called Baghir Khan as security forces reportedly broke up a celebration of the anniversary of the 1906 Constitution, which the then Shah of Iran was forced to introduce and which led to the first elected parliament.
Unconfirmed reports suggest Hojjatoleslam Ezimi Qedimi may be facing the charges of leading an illegal gathering on Constitution Day at the Mausoleum of Bagher Khan; giving an interview to the Shams-e Tabriz website; giving an interview to Ana Yurdu television station; opposition to the Islamic Republic; contempt of court; aiding the setting up and distribution of the publication "Rasul"; and misleading young religious students in the city of Qom.
Amnesty International is concerned that Hojjatoleslam Ezimi Qedimi may be held solely on account of the non-violent expression of his ethnic and cultural identity and if so would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Hojjatoleslam Ezimi Qedimi was previously arrested in 2004 during a sit-in protest against the Iranian government’s cultural and economic policies towards ethnic Azeris in Iran. He was reportedly held for 10 days, and then exiled for two years to the city of Qom. He is then said to have gone without permission to Tabriz to take part in the meeting at the Baghir Khan mausoleum.
Ethnic Azeris are the largest minority group in Iran. Although generally well-integrated into society, growing calls for a greater freedom of expression of their ethnic and cultural identity in recent years have been dealt with harshly by the Iranian authorities. Iranian Azeris have complained about the lack of Azeri language schools, and there have been reports that newspapers written in Azeri (a form of Turkish) have been banned. At the end of June 2005, scores of people were reportedly arrested following an Azeri cultural gathering at Babek Castle in the city of Kalaybar. Similar events in previous years have
also met with repression.
AI Index: MDE 13/046/2005 24 August 2005