Azeri activist jailed in Iran maintains hunger strike

The health of jailed Azeri activist Morteza Moradpour — who has been on hunger strike in an Iranian prison for the last 56 days — has deteriorated, the Association of Human Rights of Azerbaijani People in Iran (AHRAZ) said Tuesday.

A critic of Iranian government policy vis-à-vis Turkic people living in Iran, Moradpour was sentenced to three years behind bars after taking part in a peaceful protest.

The demonstration was held in 2009 to protest a government plan to drain northwestern Iran’s Lake Urmia.

“Moradpour objected to plans to drain the lake,” Khahin Helali Khyav, an AHRAZ member living in Norway, told Anadolu Agency.

“So the [Iranian] authorities detained him,” Khyav said. “He is now on his 56th day of hunger strike and his health condition is bad; he faces the risk of death.”

Khyav went on to assert that the Iranian government had been applying racial assimilation policies against the Azeri people for the last 90 years.

Turkmen Gemici, for his part, a U.S.-based AHRAZ member, said there was “considerable oppression and discrimination against Turkic people” in Iran.

“Discrimination by the [Iranian] regime is not religious in nature but rather based on race,” he said.

Roughly 30 million Azeri Turkmen and Qashqai people of Turkic origin are estimated to live in Iran, where they complain that their mother tongue is not officially recognized.

Source: / aa /

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