Human rights champion discloses number of Azerbaijanis arrested during Iran protests
By Sabina Mammadli
Iran has arrested some1,700 young people from Southern Azerbaijan during the protests that began in September in the country, Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights Jala Tabrizli said.
She made the remarks at a roundtable discussion "Scream of the Lake Urimiya".
Tabrizli, who hails from Iran's Tabriz city and currently lives in France, noted that a young girl from the province was shot during the protests.
"In total, around 2,000 to 3,000 Southern Azerbaijani activists are arrested every year. The families of the arrested get intimidated so that they don't reveal the names of young people to the Human Rights Committee, which is us. We are represented in the UN and can express our opinion without any hesitations," she said.
Further, she also stated that the lack of action on the issue of drying of the Urmia Lake is a demonstration of discrimination against Azerbaijanis. Noting that the majority of Urmia has dried up, the rights activist stressed that 14 million people have to move from there because of health danger.
Speaking about the problem of language, she emphasized the inability of Azerbaijanis in Iran to use their native language.
"We are a nation there, not an ethnic minority. However, we can not use our mother tongue there, and this offends us. Our children can not be educated in their mother tongue. Our women are also oppressed. Their rights are not recognized," Tabrizli added.
The protests in Iranian cities are ongoing, prompted by the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, allegedly after being beaten by Iran's morality police while in custody for violating the strict hijab-wearing rules. Amini's death on September 16 triggered mass protests in Iran several days later.
Hijab was made mandatory for women in Iran shortly after the country’s 1979 revolution. Women, who break the strict dress code, risk being arrested by Iran’s morality police. Based on the dress code, women are required to fully cover their hair in public and wear long, loose-fitting clothes.
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