This is a letter about Said Matinpour, Azerbaijani political prisoner and prisoner of conscience in Iran, which was read by Senator Dennis Glen Patterson on February 7, 2012 in the Canadian Senate Chambers.
Saeed Matinpour, an Azerbaijani journalist and civil rights activist, was arrested in 2008 and transferred to the notorious Evin Prison. In the same year, the Iranian judiciary sentenced Mr. Matinpour to eight years in prison, but his only crime is peacefully defending free expression and minority rights.
His crimes, according to the Revolutionary Court, were contact with foreigners and propagating against the regime, but, according to his wife, he annoyed the Revolutionary Court by requesting that Iranian Turkish children be taught in their mother tongue in school and by advocating for them to speak and write in their own tongue. He also participated in a seminar in defence of Turkish-speaking citizens, with 10 other people, in 2007. All the others were acquitted, but he alone was harshly sentenced. His wife believes this happened because he annoyed his interrogator by refusing repeated requests to say that he had received money from the U.S.
His eight-year sentence, his wife said, is a result of his interrogator's wrath, a personal vendetta.
Mr. Matinpour has endured extreme torture by prison authorities and, although previously healthy, has suffered heart attacks, has severe back pain and has a lung infection as a result.
As a member of the Senate of Canada, I condemn the Iranian regime's deplorable abuse of human rights and call for the immediate release of the unlawfully held prisoner Saeed Matinpour.
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