The Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ADAPP) works on the human rights situation facing Iran’s minorities, and in particular, the Azerbaijani Turkic community. Iranian Azerbaijanis are mainly Shi’a Muslims and are acknowledged as Iran’s largest minority, where they are generally believed to constitute between 25-30 percent of the population. The Azerbaijani Turkic society is mainly in the north and north-west of Iran, although significant communities are found throughout the country. In recent years, they have been calling for greater cultural and linguistic rights, such as the right to education in the Azerbaijani-Turkic language, and the right to celebrate Azerbaijani culture and history. However, these demands are violently suppressed by the Iranian authorities, resulting in execution, torture, persecution and imprisonment of Azerbaijani human rights activists.
The Association for the Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners (ADAPP) is an organisation registered under the Societies Act in British Columbia, Canada. It seeks to promote and increase awareness in Iran and globally concerning the human rights situation of the community of Azerbaijani Turkic speakers and other minorities in Iran by carrying out targeted initiatives concerning human rights violations against these communities. In order to fulfil its mission, ADAPP seeks to ensure that its initiatives are targeted and practical, aiming with every measure to develop capacity and sustainability in the target community, leading by example. Our networking puts reliable and trustworthy activists in touch with each other. ADAPP interventions are intended to provide the basis for the development of greater awareness and capacity regarding the Azerbaijani community, whether these be in ADAPP’s name or on behalf of organisations like Amnesty International, the relevant IGO mechanism or media outlet.
Our partners in the development of a human rights community in areas of Azerbaijani Turkic settlement in Iran include local activists across the breadth of areas of Azerbaijani settlement in Iran, from Iran’s border with Turkey in the west, to Turkic communities in Khorasan in the east; from the northern border with the Republic of Azerbaijan in the north to the Turkic speaking communities in Khuzestan and the province of Fars, in the south. They also include Azerbaijanis found outside Iran, whether as a result of flight, such as cases of asylum seekers, or migrants.
ADAPP is in daily contact with human rights groups in the major cities of Tabriz, Ardabil, Zanjan, and Urmiyeh. In the smaller cities and towns in the regions outside each of these cities, there are active groups and grassroots activists. Due to lack of access to safe communication and the internet in smaller cities, activists in these towns must be reached in person, by telephone land lines or unreliable mobile/cell phone services, each of which is prone to monitoring by Iran’s security services, or through local contacts or intermediaries who may not be under surveillance by the secret police. ADAPP has nonetheless been able to build a network to allow a safe, secure and reliable flow of information from all these small and major cities. The development of awareness, networking and activism that ADAPP has helped to foster is testimony to the added value that ADAPP brings to the indigenous activism amongst the Azerbaijani community.
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