UPDATE: (10 November 2008) Alireza Sarafi was released from prison on 9 November after posting approximately $52,000 (500 million Rial) bail.
Alireza Sarafi, a writer and newspaper journalist who works for Azerbaijani cultural rights, was arrested on 10 September during an Iftar celebration in Tehran. Sarafi was at the celebration with 18 other guests at a co-workers home on Navab Safavi Road in Tehran. Intelligence officials inspected Sarafi’s home at 11 am on 18 September. According to the Committee for Defense of the Political Prisoners of Azerbaijan (ASMAK), officials searched Sarafi’s home, presenting a letter containing a stamp and signature that read: “For confronting pan-Turkist and ethnic activists it is permitted to enter, detain, and overcome any physical obstacles [for the goals of entry and detention].”
During the three-hour inspection, Sarafi’s computer, two laptops and books belonging to him and his son, his writings and his investigative work were confiscated. Intelligence officials also confiscated the passports of Sarafi’s family and his and his wife’s national identity cards.
Sarafi has written several books including Multiple Ethnicities and Iranian National Identity. He is the owner and director of the Farsi and Azeri monthly publication Dilmaj. He is a contributing writer for Varliq magazine, professor of Azerbaijani folklore at Tehran University and conducts seminars on mother languages in Tabriz. He is also a member of the National Peace Council. Sarafi has participated in numerous seminars on Azeri language and culture in the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkey, and has written articles on these subjects.
According to ASMAK, four others were arrested with Sarafi and kept in Section 209 of Evin Prison. They were physically and psychologically abused and denied basic detainees rights. The four others were released on 9 October 2008. Until 19 October, Sarafi was allowed only one very brief phone call to his family.
Sarafi’s wife, Vajiheh Fekour, has gone to the Revolutionary Court to plead her husband’s case. Matteen Rassekh, the Court’s interrogator, told her that she does not have the right to get a defense lawyer for her husband.