“Ethnic Azeris comprised approximately one-quarter of the country’s population, were well integrated into government and society, and included the supreme leader among their numbers. Non etheless, Azeris complained that the government discriminated against them, banning the Azerbaijani language in schools, harassing Azeri activists or organizers, and changing Azeri geographic names. Azeri groups also claimed a number of Azeri political prisoners had been jailed for advocating cultural and language rights for Azerbaijanis. The government charged several of them with ‘revolting against the Islamic state.’” [4f] (Section 6)
The Iranian Minorities Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO) reported on 21 August 2010 that:
“Azeri is the largest ethnic group in Iran with around 30 million people. Azeri’s [sic] who speak Turkish is [sic] banned from studying in their mother tongue and many of their cultural activists are in prison.
“Azeri is [sic] heavily suppressed by the Iranian security service. Azeri political parties’ [sic] are banned and political activists are tortured in prison. Many Azeri political activists are killed under torture.” [47a]
The FIDH/LDDHI report published in October 2010 observed that:
“The main problems that the Iranian Azeri Turks face concern cultural discrimination.
Many people believe that languages other than Persian should be promoted in Iran and their speakers be allowed access to education in their own language.
“Azeris have also complained of disrespect for their culture and language. Some controversial cartoons in the government newspaper, daily Iran, depicted cockroaches speaking Azeri Turkic in May 2006, and caused uproar in many cities of the northwestern Iranian provinces and parts of Tehran. Scores of demonstrators were arrested, some were injured and four were said to have died in Naqadeh, a city in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran.
“Since then, the Iranian Azeri cultural activists commemorate what is known as the ‘cartoons anniversary’ every year, which the authorities try to contain through a policy of detainment; 31 activists were arrested in May 2010.” [56c] (p15)
The same report continued:
“Azeri cultural activists have faced problems for writing about or celebrating the Mother Tongue Day, and demanding education in their mother tongue. In June 2010, the appeal court of Azerbaijan sentenced Mr. Alireza Farshi and his wife Sima Didar to six months imprisonment for taking part in a demonstration in May 2009 in the Il Guli [People’s Lake] Park of Tabriz, where ‘Education in Turkish’ was one of the slogans.
“Detentions also occur frequently in July every year, when thousands of Iranian Azeris gather at Fort Babak (Qaleh Babak) near the town of Kalibar in East Azerbaijan province to mark the birthday of an Historical leader by the name of Babak, who rebelled against the Arab Islamic rulers 1,200 years ago. In May 2010, according to Iranian Azeri sources, a court in Kalibar tried Ayat Mohammad Jafari and sentenced him to 91 days imprisonment for ‘disrupting public order’ by taking part in the 2004 celebrations at Fort Babak.
“The same sources allege that some military personnel have been expelled from the armed forces for taking part in Azeri Turkic cultural activities or celebrations in recent years. Firooz Yousefi, a non-commissioned officer, was said to have been expelled from the Army for pan-Turkism in March 2010 and later detained in June.” [56c] (p15)