NCRI - Four Turkish speaking civil rights activists in Iran have been sentenced to 45 years in jail and 8 years of exile on charges including commemorating International Mother Language Day.

According to the verdict, the activists have been interrogated and convicted due to their beliefs and peaceful cultural and linguistic activities.

Issued on February 19, the verdict has been communicated to the activists on February 21, coinciding with international Mother Language Day.

Court documents show that the activists have been involved in no violent activities, with cultural and linguistic activities being their most areas of interest.

According to reports, the activists’ sentences are as follows: Alireza Farshi, 15 years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Khuzestan province, Akbar Azad, 10 years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Ilam province, Behnam Sheikhi, ten years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Khuzestan province, and Hamid Manfi, ten years of imprisonment and two years of exile in Lorestan province.

A Turk activist said in this regard that the defendants’ main charge was holding a ceremony to commemorate International Mother Language Day in 2014, which along with their forming mountain climbing groups and publishing contents on social networks, has been regarded as ‘divergent and separatist measures’ by the Revolutionary court.

February 21 has been named by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day. Ethnic rights activists in some regions of Iran commemorate the day in unofficial ceremonies. Meanwhile, twitter users criticized the ban on teaching languages other than Farsi at schools with #MotherTongue.
Teaching mother tongue at schools and universities was one of Hassan Rouhani’s promises during his Presidential Election campaign.

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