Saturday, 23 August 2008

IMHRO: Five Year Prison Sentence for Ahwazi Arab Writer and Journalist is condemned

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



The Iranian government has sentenced Ahwazi writer and journalist Mr Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi to 5 years in prison. They have also banned his daughter Hanan from higher education.

In an interview with IMHRO, Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi, who is the author of several books, said that he had lost his job with the Hamshahri newspaper in September 2006 as result of his activities.

“They also banned my daughter Hanan, from postgraduate study in Tehran University, just because of my activities as a writer. She was never active in any political or cultural matters. She received her BA degree with a very good result. We complained about it to the Higher Education ministry, to MP’s in Iran and to anyone we could, but to no effect.”

“In March 2006 they also arrested my son Afnan in Syria and they kept him in detention for 42 days. Again all this happened to him just because of my activities.”

Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi, who lives in Tehran, was always a moderate voice in raising the profile of ethnic diversity in Iran, especially of Ahwazi Arabs and always acted in peaceful ways.

“I introduced Arabic literature to the Persian culture and also introduced Persian literature to the Arabic culture. I helped to introduce Ahwazi Arabs to the rest of Iran. Now as result of my activities I am banned from being employed in any job as a journalist. Is this my reward?”

As inflation in Iran is high it will make this very hard time for his family.

“After my last arrest, they released me on the bill, based on my house value and price; now I cannot sell it or rent it. Many news agencies in Iran like IRNA invited me to work with them, but when they found out that I’m banned from being employed by order of the government, they showed no further interest.”

Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi, who is a founder member of the Iranian Pen association, is now banned from working as a journalist and writer.

“They wanted me to be silent and to be a writer who will write whatever they order, but I’m not that sort of writer. All the problems that I face are just because I am an independent writer. I just reflect the facts, I’m not politician in terms of day to day activity, and I am just a researcher and writer.”

Reza Washahi a researcher on minorities in Iran told IMHRO, “This is typical of the restrictions and discrimination against those who write about minorities in Iran. Restrictions such as social bans always include members of the family as well, including more distant relatives. These are the pressure tools which the Iranian government use to keep everyone silent. Everyone knows Yusef Azizi is a peaceful activist, but even so, they do not tolerate him.”

“The Iranian government always accuses Ahwazi groups of violent activities and they ban them merely on the basis of such allegations, but by not tolerating people like Yusef Azizi they show this is only propaganda and that they are against any kind of activity. They just want to silence everyone.”

“The fact that they even stopped his daughter from going to higher education, just because her father’s peaceful activities, is appalling. This is against any basic human rights. Every person has a right to study.”

Condemnation and appeal

IMHRO condemns the court sentence of 5 years imprisonment for Mr Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi and we are appealing to the international community and human rights organisations to raise their voices in support of his case and asking the Iranian government to cancel the 5 year prison sentence imposed on him and also lift the social bans, restrictions and discriminations against him and his family.

Please send your appeal to one of the addresses and express your concern over the 5 year sentence of Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi and ask the Iranian authorities to lift the social restrictions from him and his family.

Secretary General United Nations
The Honourable Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Headquarters,
Room S-3800,
New York,
NY 10017,

Supreme Leader of Iran
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail via web site

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,

Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail via web site

European Parliament Human Rights Committee
Ms. Hélène FLAUTRE
Bureau d'Hélène Flautre au Parlement Européen,

8G130, rue Wierz,
B-1049, Bruxelles,

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

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